Most Memorable Scene in an Anime

For most of us anime lovers, there exists a scene, or episode, that resonated with our soul. Whether it is that long-anticipated kiss, or the completely botched love confession, we all have our favorites.

For me, we’d have to rewind the anime clock back to 2008. Yeah, that’s right. Mine comes from a much older anime.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS REGARDING SKIP BEAT! PROCEED WITH CAUTION


My most memorable scene comes from Skip Beat!

This anime was released back in 2008. Our protagonist is Kyoko, a 16-year old girl in love with her childhood friend, Shotaro. Sho is destined to run his family’s inn, so to escape, he asks Kyoko to run away with him to Tokyo so he could pursue his dreams as a musician/idol. Because she is in love with Sho, she follows him to Tokyo. She works multiple jobs to support Sho while he works on becoming the seventh ranked idol in Japan. The more fame he gathered, the more he treated Kyoko like a doormat. While bringing him a snack to his agency, she overhears Sho complain to his female manager that Kyoko is pretty much no one to him, is his doormat, and that she is plain and boring. He continues to flirt with his manager and Kyoko snaps. Instead of being a crying victim, she declares revenge on Sho. Sho tells her that the only way she could get revenge is becoming a bigger star. Kyoko transforms herself and begins her journey of climbing up the showbiz ladder to prove Sho he misjudged her.

I connected with this anime because of Kyoko. Her personality is very much like mine. I very rarely…actually. I NEVER allow myself to be a victim. I’ve always been that way. So, it was refreshing to have a protagonist with as much drive, ambition, and fire to prove someone wrong. Finally. A female protagonist that doesn’t sit in a corner crying waiting for someone else to solve her problems. She is a strong, independent woman and she don’t need no man! I also loved that fact that the betrayal of Sho set her into action. Now, one might argue her reaction isn’t healthy, and that is what made me love Kyoko more. I loved that her passion ignited something within her to ACT. I loved that she was going to prove Sho wrong no matter what it took. That moved me. And, again. One might argue those aren’t exactly endearing qualities in a person, but it is to me.

The anime follows her journey to becoming an actress and it is filled with some hilarity. Determined to make Sho notice her, she joins the agency (I should say bullied her way into the agency) that is opposite of Sho’s. There, she begins to work with his rival, Ren. And, yes. You’ve guessed it. They slowly start to develop a more-than-friends relationship. So, intertwined in this anime is a plot for revenge, the evolution of Kyoko from doormat to strong, independent woman, and a love triangle. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

But, I digress. This just sets the scene for my most memorable scene in an anime. You’d have to watch Episodes 17, 18, and 19 of Skip Beat!

Kyoko actually gets hired to be Sho’s music video. She has altered her appearance so much that she is sure Sho won’t recognize who she is. However, her plan backfires when her actions betray her. She still can’t help herself from mothering Sho and he catches on. He plays a trick on her which exposes who she is. Despite finding out who she is, Sho doesn’t fire her. In fact, he challenges her to convince him that she’s changed. Fired up from this challenge, Kyoko gives it all she’s got. While she is still new to acting, those around her know that she is a forced to be reckoned with. Sho’s manager even warns him. She is going to swallow you whole if you don’t be careful.

In the video, the concept is Sho is a devil. Kyoko is cast as one of two angels. Sho’s current girl toy is cast as the second angel who plays Kyoko’s “friend”. The second angel, Kyoko’s “friend”, falls in love with the devil. Fearing that her friend is being deceived and corrupted by this devil’s love, Kyoko’s character is willing to commit the ultimate sin to free her friend.

When Kyoko is finally in makeup, she shocks Sho. He can’t believe the sight in front of him. Even the director is amazed by Kyoko’s transformation. Kyoko approaches Sho with evil intent in her eyes, kicks Sho in the shin, grabs him by the collar, and proclaims that the innocent girl he took advantage of doesn’t exist. She glares at him looking into the depths of his soul and declares, “I’ll make you wish that you were dead.”

I felt the voice actress’s performance. I really did. I was also cheering for Kyoko for being able to talk down to him after everything he’s done to her. Even the director of the video was taken aback stating something along the lines of never seeing an angel turn into a devil before her eyes.

But, wait! There’s more!

As the episode continues, Kyoko is still new to acting, and thus struggles to find her motivation. She specifically struggles to not truly strangle Sho in her scene. After a break and a call to her friend, she’s given the right scenario to invoke the feelings she needs to convey. Mustering up what she can, in the final scene she is supposed to push Sho off a tower. Sho is supposed to fall, closing his eyes, and resigning to his fate. Using the motivation her friend gave her, Kyoko begins to sincerely cry as she approaches Sho. Sho, knowing that Kyoko never cries unless she is in terrible pain, forgets what he is supposed to do in the moment. As children, Kyoko had decided to never cry in front of Sho because he didn’t know how to console her. Instead of falling with his eyes closed, Sho maintains eye contact with Kyoko as he falls. It ruins the scene. As the director tells one of the staff, it looks like Sho is in love with the wrong angel.

With the drama of Kyoko “finding her acting voice” and the drama of Kyoko finally being able to put a dent in Sho’s armor, those three episodes have to be one of my favorite, if not my favorite, scene amongst all anime.

Life Goes On

Thought I would give everyone a real life update.

The Floors

*Insert stupidly long irritated and annoyed sigh*

The arrival of our flooring and installation should have been done by now. In fact, our living room furniture was supposed to be delivered on June 12th, but we had to delay its delivery…twice. Unfortunately, my husband got the call that the manufacturer is having an issue and now my floors are delayed another ten days. I’m pretty annoyed. We went with a pretty well-known contractor, so I am not worried about the company running off with our money or never doing the floors. It’s just an inconvenience.

Currently, my living room looks like we were robbed.

Since we prematurely got rid of the couch, I have no where to just unwind other than at my computer desk. Sometimes, you don’t want to be at your computer desk when you just left your computer desk. You know what I mean?

It is what it is. Life goes on. #firstworldproblem

Antihistamine Did What?!

On a June 4th, I took a day off from work. I was feeling under the weather. I also started a new medication, hydroxyzine. It is an antihistamine. It is commonly used to treat anxiety on top of the normal things antihistamine does. I was basically drunk by overdose from the 5th through the 8th. I had taken full doses that Friday, Saturday, and then stopped. It wasn’t until the afternoon of the 8th that I was finally confident in my ability to drive. After an exchange with medication management, we cut the dosage in half and I’ve been fine since. I never knew antihistamine could do that to you. I’m not talking about Benadryl-induced sleepiness. I was straight-up not functional.

At one point, I was cognizant enough to go to Target with my husband that Saturday. While shopping, I am told by my husband, I started walking around with an invisible taquito in my hand. When we got to the car, my husband took me to QuikTrip to get a spicy chicken taquito, some chips, and a drink. He figured I was hungry or my blood sugar was crashing. He then told me that I devoured the taquito, ate some chips, and drank some of my drink and stared off into the distance as we drove home. When we got home, I almost cried because I thought he tricked me and didn’t take me to get a taquito. He had to point out that there were chips and a drink and the empty taquito wrapper. I had slurred speech and stumbled around like I was drunk. Once he got me up the stairs, he tucked me into bed and told me to rest. I don’t remember much about the weekend, let alone my trip to Target. I vaguely remember wanting a taquito, but everything else was a blur.

Yeah, that stuff really messed with me. So, be careful, folks.

I Might Have Bipolar II Disorder

Ah, yes. This is always a fun conversation to have. Mostly because I know how uneducated I was about the disorder, so I can only assume most people that have not been directly affected by it are also uneducated.

I always thought bipolar disorder meant that you have drastic mood swings. At least, that is how family members diagnosed with it would tell me. I think those diagnosed with the disorder often don’t fully understand. It was explained poorly to them by their doctor, and thus it was poorly explained to me.

I am by no means an expert on the topic. My diagnosis hasn’t even been finalized, but I’ve done enough research that I am confident that I check enough of the boxes.

Like all mental disorders, there is much disagreement about what is or isn’t part of a disorder. Bipolar disorder is no different. Currently, bipolar disorder is classified into two major categories: I and II. And, even then, there is a lot of disagreement on whether there should be two categories.

It is so much more than “mood swings”. SO much more.

Bipolar disorder I is often characterized by “manic” episodes. There are not merely “mood swings”. A manic episode usually lasts a week or more. Often, the behavior is risky and shows poor judgment like spending a lot of money without a thought to the consequences. For some, it is engaging in risky sexual behaviors that one wouldn’t normally do. The manic behavior gives confidence, self-importance, or elated behavior that is not normal. They might even need hospitalization during a manic episode. Some even experience hallucinations and psychosis. Manic episodes are often extreme, not just a sudden, quick, and temporary change in mood. It isn’t the “hot one minute” then “cold the next” that I associated with bipolar disorder. It’s important to distinguish that these episodes lasts days, not minutes.

Bipolar disorder II is often characterized by mostly depressive episodes with “hypomanic” episodes. The hypomanic episodes are typically less severe than a full-blown manic episode, however, it is not a less severe bipolar disorder. A hypomanic episode still causes a person’s behavior to differ from their normal state. Instead of having extreme highs, bipolar II usually has more extreme depressive states.

In my case, I am constantly depressed. Looking back over my life, I can’t genuinely say that there were periods of true happiness. Sure, I smile. I laugh. I learned those behaviors to adapt. I don’t mean that as an insult to friends and family, but the truth is, happiness is a feeling I am not familiar with. I am not saying I’ve never been happy. I’m saying it is rare and that depression has been such a long-term companion that I’m not even sure how to tell the difference anymore.

My first psychiatric APRN had told me one day that I am probably so depressed that periods of happiness go undetected because to others it seems like normal behavior. She never just told me she suspected bipolar disorder, but I guess it takes a long time to really nail down a diagnosis. Let that sink in for a minute. I am in such a constant state of depression that burst of true happiness, energy, or elated behavior goes undetected. It will just seem to those close to me that I am in a “normal” state. That’s depressing thinking about it.

What does this mean? It means therapy and medications for the rest of my life, but I’m already a well-practiced pro at lifelong imprisonment to health. It’s no different than diabetes. It’s just one more log to add to the fire.

But, as they say, life goes on.

I’m not really embarrassed by the potential diagnosis. I’ve always lived pretty openly. I’m not ashamed of my mental struggles. But you know what? My mental struggles never stopped me from achieving so much at such a high level. It may have hurt like hell to do it, but I always powered through the best I could. This makes it no different. Whether I finally get diagnosed with something, or not, life goes on.

First Impression: Backflip!!

Title: Backflip!!

Genre: Sports

Synopsis: Shoutarou Futaba has always loved sports, but he never became more than a benchwarmer on his middle school baseball team. After noticing a group of gymnasts practicing in the park, he decides to watch a rhythmic gymnastics tournament on a whim. Although displaying an exhilarating performance at the competition, the Shoushukan High School’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Club places second-to-last due to penalties acquired from not fielding a full six-man roster.

The demonstration of skill captivates Shoutarou, and he decides to enroll at Shoushukan in hopes of joining the team despite having no background in the sport. The club recruits him alongside Ryouya Misato, a prodigal gymnast who was the runner-up in a junior tournament.

Now with a full six-man roster, the team sets out to compete in the upcoming Inter-High tournament. As he strives to accomplish this ambitious endeavor, Shoutarou must learn and master the basics of rhythmic gymnastics all while working in tandem with his new teammates if Shoushukan wants to stand a chance at claiming the title. (Credit: https://myanimelist.net/anime/43756/Bakuten)

Right off the bat, I like the premise and the storyline. When it comes to sports anime, I want it sports heavy and with a point. We meet our protagonist who is nothing more than a benchwarmer for his baseball team. As he is leaving the game, he notices a group of boys stretching. Intrigued, Shotaro Futaba, our protagonist, decides to watch the boys’ rhythmic gymnastics competition going on.

Immediately, we get to see a full routine. The bar is set regarding what we can expect through the season. If the season continues to actually put a lot of the sport in the show, I’ll be pretty happy with it.

Shotaro is inspired and awed by their performance. I, for one, have never watched men’s rhythm gymnastics so I don’t know anything about the sport. I was pleased to see that our protagonist immediately engaged into a conversation with a couple of guys who broke down the very basics of scoring and why they scored so low despite being very, very good. Another point for this show. I like when the show explains the basics in a natural way. It was obvious our protagonist knew nothing about the sport, and the two sitting next to him naturally wanted to share their knowledge so he understood why their score was low.

Shotaro decides to go to the same high school as the team that inspired him in hopes of joining even though he has no experience. We’re immediately greeted with comic relief and the introduction of the individual team members’ personalities. Just like I like it! While passing out flyers, they meet a boy ready to join the team. Embarrassed and, now, intimidated, Shotaro spies on the team in their club room. To his dismay, he gets discovered and wrangled into an introductory session. This way, he can watch a team practice and decide if he wants to join.

We learn our protagonist has spent his life following others and this is the first time he’s wanted to pursue something on his own. This is what I like in a sports anime, too. He is obviously going to be naturally talented, but still an underdog. I can foresee in the season that he is going to have moments of doubt because his skill level isn’t as great. But, I think, that makes the best kind of sports anime.

I think as long as the series follows this flow, I’m going to add another enjoyable sports anime to my list!

A Few of ChibiChonk’s Favorite Things

I am being evaluated for Bipolar II.

I bet that wasn’t the introductory line you were looking for.

This post is not about my potential diagnosis, however, this potential diagnosis is, arguably, how I found my new favorite things. If I do have Bipolar II Disorder, I experience “hypomanic” episodes.

Hypomania is an abnormally revved-up state of mind that affects your mood, thoughts, and behavior, and is a potential symptom of bipolar disorder, particularly type II.1

A hypomanic episode commonly manifests with unusual gaiety, excitement, flamboyance, or irritability, along with potential secondary characteristics like restlessness, extreme talkativeness, increased distractibility, reduced need for sleep, and intense focus on a single activity.

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-hypomania-how-is-it-diagnosed-380313#citation-7

The first time I read this, I thought, this is me. I believe there is a lot of misconception regarding Bipolar disorder, but I won’t get into it here. I will say be careful with generalities and forming opinions on something you haven’t researched. I thought Bipolar disorder was just someone who had crazy mad mood swings, and I now know that isn’t really the case.

How does this tie in with my favorite things? I believe that shopping tends to be something I engage in when I am in a hypomanic state. I spend money without thought of the consequence. When I am not in a hypomanic state, I am constantly worried of the opposite. I watch our finances like a hawk, but every once in awhile, I spend with abandon. Thankfully, it has never progressed to a point where I damaged relationships or finances with my spending, but I think the possibility is there. My potential hypomanic episodes are very brief, therefore, have never progressed long enough to do any real damage.

Recently, I found these random things that have rocked my world.

**DISCLOSURE – I HAVE NOT, AND WILL NOT, BE COMPENSATED FOR ANY OF THESE PRODUCTS. I HAVE NO AFFILIATIONS WITH ANY OF THE BRANDS MENTIONED BELOW. ALL PRODUCTS HAVE BEEN PURCHASED WITH MY OWN FUNDS. MY OPINIONS ARE ORIGINAL AND NOT INFLUENCED BY MONETARY GAIN.**

THE GOODFUL TEA TUMBLER

I saw this tumbler on a Facebook targeted ad. I know there are so many of you that hate targeted ads, but I love that I am introduced to new things without having to look for them. I love to drink iced tea, however, when I make a large amount of it, I can drink it in one day. You might not know this, but the tannin in tea can cause kidney/liver issues. Too much tea can be bad for your health. This tumbler allows me to greatly reduce the consumption of tea. Since it takes time to brew a new tumbler, it really makes me ask myself whether I really need that next tumbler of tea versus raiding the fridge without another thought. What makes me happy about this item is I can use loose leaf tea without having to worry about a tea steeper. The design of this tumbler allows you to dump your tea, any muddled fruit (yes, muddled fruit), and any sweetener in the bottom. You let it steep. Then you push the inner chamber that is filled with ice down. What you’re left with in a 16 ounces of tasty iced tea. If you like iced tea and need a way to slow your consumption down, this is a great purchase. At $19.99, it is totally worth it.

HACKBERRY TEA

To go along with my tumbler, I needed good tea. I don’t recall how I stumbled upon Hackberry Tea, but they make some pretty tasty tea. Their bright peach black tea is amazing. They carry a good variety and even sell sample bags so you don’t have to commit to a tea you might not enjoy. They’re a small family company, so I feel good about supporting them.

BUILD-A-BEAR WORKSHOP

Are you ever too old to have an awesome stuffed friend…or three?

TATCHA JAPANESE BEAUTY PRODUCTS

When it comes to skin care, I am lazy. I know what I SHOULD be doing, but I don’t. I happen to have an Ipsy subscription where I get samples of various makeup, hair care, of skin care products. It’s been really fun because I feel like I am refreshing my makeup stores without actually going and spending a lot of money to do it. In the last Ipsy bag, I received a sample of Tatcha. With one use, I was in love. My face never felt so smooth and dewy. I picked up their dewy skin set. It was a bit pricey, but worth it.

Anyhow, those are a few of my favorite things…currently. Next week, we might have a complete other list. Take care, friends!

Summer 2021 Anime is Upon Us

Can you believe that the summer 2021 anime season is upon us? I feel like this particular season went by so fast, but that is probably more related to what’s going on in my personal life.

There are two shows that I am looking forward to continuing:

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Season 2

I absolutely ADORED the first season of this show. This isekai follows a high school student who dies suddenly and is reincarnated as the villain in a game she used to play in her former life. In an effort to avoid the “doom flag” of the game, Katarina, our protagonist, does everything in her power to prepare for the worst by using her prior-life knowledge to avoid the impending doom. The show was absolutely funny and endearing in many ways. I have high hopes for season two. If you haven’t watched My Next Life as a Villainess, I highly recommend it.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Season 2, Part 2

I’ve already expressed how I love this show. We follow our protagonist, Rimuru, who was reincarnated as a slime. Despite being a weak creature, Rimuru is able to amass great strength and develop a prospering nation of monsters. Because of this, Rimuru has attracted the wrong kind of attention. Having to go to extreme lengths to save the ones he cares about, part two of season two should be interesting.

I have also spent some time looking over some new series announcements and there are a few that caught my eye.

The Case Study of Vanitas

I am a sucker (ha) for vampire anime. I just am. There is something so alluring about vampire stories. In this anime, we follow Noe as he attempts to find a grimoire that will bring an end to vampire kind. This should have a good dose of supernatural. While supernatural themes aren’t necessarily my favorite, vampires, man. Vampires.

Re-Main

Each season, I gamble on a sports anime. Last season’s Burning Kabbadi did not disappoint. For that reason, I’m going to gamble on Re-Main, a show about water polo. If it is done well, I’ll learn the basics of water polo. It’s a sport that has always intrigued me during the Olympics, so I am really hoping to learn something.

The Detective is Already Dead

The concept of this anime intrigues me. Our protagonist was an assistant to a mysterious detective known as “Siesta”. Stop right there. Just on the name alone, you got my interest. Siesta. But, I digress. Together, the two go on adventures while combatting a secret organization. Stop. You had me at secret organization…but, I digress. Unfortunately, Siesta dies leaving our protagonist alone. In a turn of events, our protagonist meets another girl and that is where our story is supposed to take off. The premise intrigues me, and every once in awhile, you need a good mystery.

Are there any shows you are looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

What Show is Your Guilty Pleasure?

We all have one.

Locked away in the deepest recesses of our hearts, we all have that one show that we’re embarrassed to admit we love. For me, that anime is Vampire Knight.

There is something about this show and I can’t put my finger on it…wait, I remember. Vampires. It has vampires.

As long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with vampires. Whether it was watching Fright Night on repeat back in the 80s, or Interview with a Vampire in the 90s, I have always loved vampires. Maybe it is their innate ability to seduce that draws me in. It is, after all, a quality that I have always admired. Maybe not seduction, per se, but definitely charisma. I admire people with charisma. When I played D&D back in high school, I always played an enchantress with the ability to seduce others to bend to my will. It’s thrilling and fun. But, I digress…

There is nothing flashy about Vampire Knight. The animation style is older, and I know many wouldn’t watch it based on this fact alone. To each their own. It isn’t exactly pleasing to the eye.

The storyline isn’t exactly compelling either. In fact, you could say it is downright insane. Arguably, you could say the insane storyline is what DOES make it compelling.

SPOILERS BELOW

The world of Vampire Knight obviously has the existence of vampires. Our female protagonist is Yuki Cross, a student at Cross Academy. At this academy, there is a “day class” and “night class”. The “day class” is under the impression that the “night class” are idols, actors, and wealthy children that have to go to school at night. However, the real secret is the “night class” is composed of vampires that have vowed to lead a peaceful life with humans. They even take a pill that simulates blood for food.

Our male protagonist is Kaname Kuran. If you have ever delved into vampire-theme lore, there is usually a hierarchy of some sort, and this vampire-themed show is no different. Kaname is one of the progenitors of the vampire race and the head of one of seven pureblood families. His estimated age is over 10,000 years old.

Yuki’s first memories are of Kaname saving her from a ravaging vampire. Yuki is then “adopted” by Kaien Cross, former vampire hunter. Kaname would visit her growing up and, expectedly, Yuki falls in love with Kaname.

But, wait! There’s more!

Enter our other male protagonist, Zero. He is Yuki’s “adopted brother”. Zero’s family were vampire hunters and his entire family was killed in a vampire attack. Kaien saves Zero and “adopts” him, too. What we discover later is Zero was bitten during the attack and therefore turning into a vampire himself despite being a vampire hunter. Unfortunately for Zero, humans that are bitten slowly, and painfully, become a vampire. Once a vampire, they slowly devolve into a monster who can no longer control their urges to feed. They are often hunted and killed. The only way to escape this fate is to feed off of the vampire that created them.

Kaien opens Cross Academy, where he becomes headmaster, so that vampires and humans can live peacefully. As Zero, Yuki, and Kaname live out their high school lives, a love triangle forms. Yuki begins allowing Zero to feed from her. This creates a bond between the two and Yuki becomes confused about what she feels for Zero.

As the story progresses, we discover that Yuki is a vampire turned human by her mother to spare her life. Kaname is her “brother” that was promised her hand in marriage. We also learn that it is common among pureblood vampires to marry their siblings.

If that doesn’t throw you for a loop, I don’t know what will.

But, wait! There’s more!

We also learn that Zero’s brother lived, and in fact, had teamed up with the vampire that attacked their home and killed their family. You see, Ichiru was a weak child. He was sickly and unable to become a vampire hunter like the rest of his family. He had developed a hatred for his brother, Zero, because he always had to be protected by Zero.

Kaname awakens Yuki and she turns into a vampire choosing Kaname over Zero.

For whatever reason, when that opening theme song drops its beat, I can’t look away. I’ve watched Vampire Knight more times than I can count. Why am I embarrassed? You know? I really don’t know. I don’t think it is a show to be embarrassed about, really. But, it doesn’t change the fact that I am. Maybe it’s the cheesy love triangle. Maybe its because it has vampires. Either way, it is always in my rotation.

You can find Vampire Knight on Netflix.

Do you have a guilty pleasure? Let me know in the comments!

Do You Have a Toxic Workplace?

I have a friend. They have been having to take mental health days due to their work environment. They have been opening up to me for a few months now about their issues. Mostly, they were seeking confirmation that they weren’t crazy. Over time, it has made me angry and sad.

Before I continue, I have to express that I am blessed. Not only do I have the best bosses, I also have the best co-workers. For a group of people from different walks of life, we all get along pretty well. It’s a very laid back, family-like environment. I think I can truly say we all care about each other beyond being co-workers. Despite receiving numerous opportunity offers throughout the 12 years at my workplace (some with SIGNIFICANT salary raises), I have never felt like I needed to escape. Except that one time…but we will expound on that more a little later. All of my co-workers in my location are kind, compassionate, and treat each other with respect.

I understand that a lot of people can’t say the same. They work in a culture where disrespect, intimidation, and gaslighting are accepted behaviors.

GASLIGHTING

In our talks, my friend consistently puts forth scenarios where their immediate supervisor makes them question their abilities at every turn. This, friends, is a form of gaslighting. For those not familiar with the term, gaslighting is a psychological manipulation/abuse of a person, or group of people, that results in that person, or group, questioning their own abilities or sanity.

A person experiencing workplace-related gaslighting may:

  • Start finding it difficult to make simple decisions;
  • Become withdrawn, unsociable, and/or not themselves;
  • Begin to second-guess one’s abilities;
  • Constant apologies to the abusive person;
  • Begins to feel hopeless, joyless, worthless, or incompetent.

Gaslight abusers are well skilled in manipulation and are masters of mind games. They know exactly when and how to apply insincere apologies, praise, or appreciation. That’s the thing about gaslight abusers. They’re good at what they do.

Have you ever had a co-worker accuse you of being difficult? You might have answered a question, but it wasn’t the answer they wanted, so the only reasonable reaction/expectation/conclusion was that you were being difficult? Did that co-worker conveniently leave out any self blame despite there being overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Did that person overreact to something completely innocent? Did that person verbally attack you with an audience? Did they possibly belittle your expertise? Was the language they used condescending? After insulting you, blaming you, criticizing you, and refusing to own up to their own involvement, did they then proceed to extend a self-serving olive branch? “Despite you being totally unreasonable and bad at your job, we need your help, BUT if you don’t want to kiss my feet while doing it, I need someone else.”

This scenario is classic gaslighting and also traits of a highly toxic person. An abuser that uses this technique will tear you down, then try to immediately lift you up but just enough to make you second-guess whether you have the right to be angry at them. This means of abuse is meant to psychologically trick the victim into doing what the abuser wants them to do.

If someone you work with immediately comes to mind, and you are left in a state of self-doubt, you work with an abuser.

NARCISSISM

I think many people use this term, but don’t really understand what it means. A narcissist and/or a person with narcissistic personality disorder:

  • Needs constant admiration or attention;
  • Shows a lack of empathy;
  • Believes that they are special or better than everyone else.

From my example above, I mentioned a person who verbally attacks with an audience. Whether it’s in front of a crowd, or they carbon copy everyone in the office in an email, narcissists require constant admiration or attention at the expense of being a decent human being. They wholly buy into the thought that they are never wrong and that fact is never up for interpretation. Their need to put on a show and become the center of attention outweighs common sense. Where a decent human being would have a private conversation out of respect to the other person, a narcissist simply lacks the ability to use empathy.

Narcissists carry internal expectations of how everyone is supposed to behave, act, think, and just be. They hold an internal image based on these expectations. Yet they don’t ever communicate this with you. You are just supposed to know how you are expected to behave, act, think, and be. Not only that, but their internal image and expectations often change on a whim. How things are supposed to be one day will certainly not be the same the next day. No wonder we all go crazy around them.

https://universallyus.com/2020/07/06/unreasonable-expectations-of-narcissists/

A narcissist typically seeks out career paths with a lot of upward movement. Narcissists often clash with those in positions above them because their need to be better than everyone else supersedes the need to be a decent person. Typically, narcissists are quarrelsome, arrogant, and exploitive. The short-sidedness of a narcissist’s goals lead to the long-term destruction of an otherwise healthy workplace. In other words, in a workplace environment, workplace relationships are all just means to an end. A narcissist has an over inflated sense of self importance. This also leads to unrealistic expectations of their subordinates. They become “too important” to do every day tasks. They want to delegate, but then set subordinates up for failure. One day, their expectation is A, but the next day their expectation is B and somewhere the subordinate is supposed to magically know the expectation changed.

A narcissist makes a toxic workplace.

If someone you work with immediately comes to mind, you have a toxic workplace.

NEGATIVITY

Earlier, I wrote about a time that I wasn’t really happy with my workplace. There was a span of about two years where I was applying for other jobs. I even went to a couple of interviews. I was convinced that my workplace didn’t appreciate me and that I was undervalued. You might be thinking, “But, wait! You just said that you work for the best place in the world!”

At the time, my judgment was clouded by someone else’s misery. The hard part about that is you don’t even see that it is affecting you. It creeps in slowly. It usually starts as a little office gossip and by the end, you’re not happy, they’re not happy, and you are all ready to quit.

Another person’s drama, hatred, loathing, and any other negative emotion can, and will, affect you. Especially if you care about that person. Being less wise, I had no clue it was happening to me. I thought I was being a good listener and friend, and, to an extent, I was. But, I was also an enabler. I enabled this person rather than detach myself from the situation. I am not putting blame on this person. I blame myself. I was not mentally strong enough to say, “I would rather not talk about that. How about we talk about something more positive?”

Instead, I gossiped and complained with this person and it ate at me like a disease.

In my case, I was lucky to have a few unanswered prayers. I couldn’t find a job, at the time, that met my needs and looking back, I am quite embarrassed that I fell into that trap. But, as said, it was MY fault.

So, if you know of a person at work that spews nothing but dissatisfaction with the state of things, kindly bow out. Save yourself the trouble and find a more positive person to hang out with.


In the end, I suggested to my friend to consider looking for another place to work. They are absolutely miserable and from what they have told me, the workplace culture isn’t going to change for them. I really have no advice if you feel you are in a toxic workplace. Everyone’s situation is unique. In the end, you have a duty to protect your own mental health. If you work with a gaslighting narcissist, you need to learn how to either deal with it, or be prepared to leave. Often more than not, the gaslighting narcissist has dug in like a tick and won’t leave without a fight.

There are plenty of resources online. What I ask of you is IF you can identify or relate to any of these issues, make sure to protect your own mental health. There is nothing healthy about taking mental health days because your boss/supervisor is causing that much stress.

Good luck to those of you in a toxic situation. Just remember that there are people that care about you. Let them help you.

My Love of BTS

It’s time to address the elephant in the room: Hi, my name is ChibiChonk and I love BTS.

When I first told my son, he told me, “Whoa, Mom. Their fans are toxic. Are you sure you want to go down that path?”

And this statement made by my own flesh and blood is exactly why I dislike generalized opinions based on conjecture and not one’s own research. The world is not black and white. There is always a lot of gray area. I do my best to try to see all sides of the issue. That doesn’t mean I always do. It just means I try. The same went for BTS. I had also heard their fandom was “toxic”. I heard that any dissent regarding BTS would result in getting attacked. I had read articles about fans bullying other fans, tv anchors, commentators, and hosts. Even though I didn’t quite like my son’s generality, he wasn’t exactly misinformed. A quick Google search will bring you a ton of bad behavior by Army, but on the flipside, there is a lot of good, too. That being said, I never condemned Army or judged them. I was just very indifferent.

At what moment did you acknowledge BTS’ talent?

It happened on August 3, 2020.

I was browsing YouTube when one of the suggested videos was BTS Carpool Karaoke. At this point, I had never actually watched BTS. I couldn’t tell you their names or the titles of any of their songs. While I knew of BTS and the alleged toxicity of their fans, I had never actually cared enough to listen to them. I was not particularly interested in K-Pop and overall, I was indifferent to their existence. I have always enjoyed the Carpool Karaoke skits, so I thought, “What the hell. Let’s give these guys a shot.”

My first impression was: These guys make me smile. BTS opened with their song, Mic Drop. I found myself bobbing my head and thinking, “Wow. This isn’t really ‘boy-bandy’. This is catchy as hell.”

After their first “performance”, RM was explaining how he learned English. It is a well-known fact that RM learned to speak English by watching the show, Friends. That’s when Jin says in the background, “Well, I’ve watched Friends, too. But, I can’t speak English…”

That’s when I belly laughed. I was shocked that the smile that began at the beginning of the video had not dropped and, now, this adorable Korean man was making jokes. They all seemed genuinely happy to be there, and they all seemed like they were being themselves. A lot of times, you watch boy bands and it can be obvious they don’t want to be there, or having a bad day. I recall not really feeling that even though there was a language barrier. I was impressed with RM as well. I later found out RM has a genius IQ. No wonder he could learn English from Friends.

Then…Jimin happened.

As they sang the next song, I distinctly remember Jimin’s voice. The smile faded from my face. I remember being dumbfounded. Is that his real voice?! It was as if the angels swooped down from heaven and took my heart. It sounds stupid, but I was breathless. I was literally entranced by his voice. That’s when I noticed his face. Could a man be any more beautiful?! He sings like an angel and looks like one, too?! How unfair, life!

The next part of the skit was James Corden asking about their nicknames. The whole time, I smiled. My heart felt full. Who are these guys? Why do their smiles make me smile? Why do I want to give all of them a hug?

Their next song was ON and the musician in me was “Whoa.”

Is this the type of music they sing? It had that getting out of school, starting your beater car, rolling down the windows, hitting play on your portable CD player connected by that weird tape adapter, putting it on full-blast, peeling out of the gravel parking lot vibe. Not that I did that…much. I remember thinking, “Is THIS what I’ve been missing out on?”

It finally ended with a dance class and I was blown away. I’ve always known boy bands center around the entertainment aspect, but I could tell they were next level. Jimin gets up to teach part of their choreography and I remember I leaned back in my chair and said, “Whaaaat just happened?”

And, that’s where it started y’all. That’s where it started.

I probably spent a week learning everything I could about the group. I listened to all their music. Learned their names. Developed my biases (Jimin/Jin/Suga). It only took a week to consider myself a part of Army.

What do you most admire about BTS?

I admire their work ethic. Not their innate talent, or dance moves. Their work ethic. If you take the time to learn about BTS, it is hard to not acknowledge how hard they work. They set high standards for themselves always working to perfect whatever task is in front of them. You quickly learn they have dedicated their lives to this group. They work through exhaustion. They cry when they feel they let someone down. They acknowledge their weaknesses and do everything in their power to make up for their lack of dance experience, or singing experience. They will perform with injuries. Their professionalism is so high, you would never know that they were in intense pain if it weren’t for the eagle eyes of Army. I have a lot of respect for musicians that work hard and continue to work hard. They sing all of their performances live. Yes, they do it with tracks, but I dare you to pull up a performance and not be able to tell that they’re singing. I am always in awe of their stamina to do what they do.

They genuinely make me happy

When I am feeling run down, or in a bad mood, I can turn on YouTube and watch a video. They make me laugh so hard, it hurts. Just a few of my favorite clips:

Suga – Bullfrogs and Water Deer (I dare you to not immediately Google the sound of a water deer.)

All Members – Complaining about their choreography difficulty

Is Army toxic?

I think any fandom can be toxic. It is no lie that Army has its share of blemishes. But, you know what? I’ve also seen their generosity. When I ordered a keychain from Etsy, the seller also enclosed a second keychain, Jimin photocards, and a Jimin mini-button for free. In her note, she wrote that she made all of the items in hopes to see BTS in concert before the pandemic. Her plan was to hand it all out to fellow Army. How sweet is that? Since she couldn’t do that until after the pandemic, she was including it with all of her BTS handmade merchandise. That is the Army I want to focus on. I acknowledge there are fans that are over the top. Paying for billboard trucks to express your dissatisfaction on how the group is being managed is crazy. You are straight-up crazy. I can’t imagine anything more toxic and I can only imagine how it makes the group feel. People call themselves fans, but then partake in such selfish actions without consideration on how it makes the artist feel. Honestly, I would be embarrassed if my fans did things like that. Like, damn. Take a chill pill. It is crazy to spend money on the illusion that you have any control or influence on an artist. Like, find some reality.

If you’ve never given BTS a chance, I suggest their cover of Fix You by Coldplay. You don’t have to enjoy K-pop to appreciate their musicality.

Is Age Just a Number?

POTENTIAL SPOILERS: PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Age difference in relationships will always be a polarizing topic. One of my favorite anime from the spring 2021 season is Koikimo. This anime features a relationship with a ten-year gap in age.

Ryou is a successful salaryman with a womanizing reputation. He has gone through life using women for pleasure and then not even bothering to remember their names. On the outside, he is good-looking and sought after, but has little room in his heart for meaningful relationships.

After a night of pleasure, Ryou finds himself irritated that the woman he slept with kept him up all night. Tired and dizzy, he made his way to the station. While distracted, another person bumps into him just as he was at the top of the stairs. Realizing that he is about to be seriously injured and/or possibly die, all he can do is say, “Oh shit.”

Enter our female protagonist, high-schooler Ichika. Ichika saves Ryou from certain injury, perhaps, even death, by using the handle of her umbrella to grab his coat collar and pull him back. As he gathers himself, she apologizes for strangling him in her attempt to save him. She notices he is pale and asks if he had breakfast. Replying that he had not, she rummages in her bag to see if she had anything to offer him. Glancing at her watch, she realizes that she is about to be late for school. In a swift action, she shoves her lunch in his hands and takes off running wishing him health.

At first, Ryou is annoyed. Why would this stranger give him her lunch? He was about to throw it away when he suddenly had a change of heart and opened the lunch, presumably, to eat it.

The day has ended and Ryou heads to his family home. There, we meet his younger sister, Rio. She announces that she has a friend over. That’s when Ichika and Ryou make eye contact. He then enters playboy mode when his sister leaves the room to take a call. Under the guise of “properly thanking her” for saving his life, he first offers her shoes or clothes, then a kiss, and then offers to go even further.

Ichika, with a disgusted look on her face, replies, “You’re creepy. You’re offering up yourself as thanks for saving you? What are you thinking? That’s not why I saved you.”

Ryou is taken aback by her honesty.

Almost immediately, Ichika apologizes for expressing her thoughts.

And, this. This is the moment Ryou feels something stir in his heart for the first time. Moved by her sincere gesture of giving him her lunch to her honesty to his shallow offer, he gets down on one knee and tells her, “I’m moved…I’ve never felt this way before.”

The balance of the show spends the bulk of its time building the relationship between Ryou and Ichika. There are so many memorable scenes of Ryou acting like a love-sick puppy and Ichicka being disgusted by him. It’s well done, and actually quite funny. What starts as a one-sided love eventually blossoms to mutual feelings. But, there is a glaring issue. Ryou is ten-years older than Ichika. At one point, a pursuer of Ryou brings up this fact in a moment of jealousy. Can Ryou and Ichika be happy together? Can they make it work? Will the age gap bring Ichika misery instead of happiness?

I don’t believe that age is a sole determinant on whether a relationship will be successful. I have friends that have successful marriages with much older spouses, and friends that could not make it work. I, personally, believe that there are other factors that determine whether age will affect a relationship such as personality, maturity, and willingness.

For example, I’m pretty young at heart. I wear youthful clothing; I dye my hair funky colors; I like stuffed animals; I watch anime and Asian dramas; I used to stream video games; and, for the most part, I am interested in things that people my age “gave up” or “moved on from”. When I went to college orientation with my now 21-year old son a few years ago, the students thought I was his older sister and/or a student myself. One student was pretty shook and told me he didn’t think I was a day over 25. At the time, I was 38.

At my son’s college orientation

Unless the person is also the same, someone older than me would most likely be a deal breaker. On the flip side, I am confident that I could maintain a relationship with someone quite younger than me. As long as they’re responsible and mature, or have the willingness to hear me out when I might have a bit more wisdom on the situation, we’d be fine. Do you hear me, Park Jimin or Kim Seok-jin?? I’d make it work!

Is age just a number? For the most part, I think so. In this particular show, I believe whole-heartedly that these two can make it work. She’s mature for her age and he’s willing to do what it takes to make it work. If they date for a few years to allow her to grow a bit more, they’re going to be fine.

So, there you have it. Large age gaps don’t bother me unless the situation is illegal, of course. Obviously, I don’t support predators that target young men/women. I’m talking about normal, healthy, good-intentioned relationships. It doesn’t bother me one bit that this show highlights such a large age gap between the protagonists. While I may not understand marriages with 20, 30, 40 year gaps, I don’t disapprove of them. Everyone’s situation is unique and it really is none of my business or my place to judge who people fall in love with.

Beef Stew with Green Chiles

It has been awhile since I shared a recipe with you guys. This is actually a recipe that I threw together using basic techniques that I learned throughout the years.

I would like to go on record that this is not the traditional “green chile” stew. Traditionally, green chile stew is made with pork, however, I don’t really care for pork in stew. My recipe is very much tomato based which is not typical of a “green chile” stew. There is some added red pepper flake for spice. Additionally, if you have hot green chiles available, that is also an option to crank up the spice. If you really want to feel the burn, substitute original Rotel for hot.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs. of beef stew meat
  • 1/4 cup of flour to coat the meat
  • 1/4 cup of flour for the roux
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 can of Muir Glen tomato sauce
  • 1 can of Muir Glen stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can of diced potatoes
  • 1 can of Original Rotel
  • 1 can of diced green chile
  • 1 can of mixed vegetables (Veg-All)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of coarse Kosher salt

EQUIPMENT:

  • Enameled cast iron pot or cast iron braiser pan

METHOD:

  • First, take a look at your stew meat. My grocery store cuts the meat into very large chunks that, as is, will be too large to eat in one bite. I take the time to cut those larger chunks into more manageable pieces. You want to have each of the chunks roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Salt and pepper the meat and then lightly coat in flour making sure to remove large excess of any flour. For ease, I put 1/4 cup flour in a container or Ziploc bag and shake to coat the meat.
  • Using your enameled pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable (or another light colored, high temperature oil) and 1 tablespoon of butter. I typically use sunflower oil. On my stove, medium heat is hot enough.
  • Do not over crowd the surface of your pan. That’s a quick way to lower the temperature of your pan and you most definitely do not want that. If the meat doesn’t immediately sizzle and start to brown, your pan is not hot enough. It usually takes me 3-4 batches to sear the 2lbs. of meat.
  • After completing the searing process and removing all of the meat to a holding plate, turn down the heat slightly. Your pan is going to be super hot from searing and you don’t want to burn the butter. Melt 1/4 cup butter in the pan.
  • Add 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper, and bay leaf to the butter and cook for about a minute. Just long enough to “cook” the flour.
  • Slowly whisk in the 2 cups of beef broth. It will thicken to a gravy consistency.
  • Turn down the heat to low. Whisk in the can of tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, green chiles, and Rotel. The sauce will be thick.
  • Add the seared beef back to the sauce. Cover and simmer on very low for no less than 1 hour. Typically, I simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours if the beef is particularly tough. Just keep checking the tenderness every half hour. The goal here is slowly simmer, not boil.
  • Once tenderness is achieved, add the can of diced potatoes and mixed vegetables. Continue to simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. This should be long enough to heat the canned vegetables through.
  • Last step is to always sample and see if you need to add more seasoning. Because the amount of salt in canned goods varies, it will not always been consistent. I typically have to add more freshly ground pepper and a dash or two of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. That usually does the trick. Other seasonings you might want to try is onion powder or garlic powder.

NOTES:

Can I use a non-stick pot? The short answer is yes. However, if you want the best results, cast iron is really the path to take. In my experience, non-stick does not sear the meat as well as cast iron, nor does it create that magical crust on the bottom from searing the meat. Those crusty bits of flavor are deglazed and add a ton of flavor to the stew. I have never been able to replicate that with a non-stick pot. Can you achieve the end product? Yes, but my experience has been non-stick pans will not create the same texture from the meat, or the same flavor in the broth.

Yes, I use canned vegetables. Yes, I feel like I have to defend them. One of my hobbies is browsing recipes to try and reading the comments for further guidance. A lot can be learned from the comments, positive and negative. The most negative thing I consistently read is the attack on any recipe that uses canned and/or prepared items. This always angers me. I get it. Some people have the extra income and extra time for vegetable prep every day. Some people wake up every Saturday morning to hit up the farmer’s market and hand pick the world’s finest organic vegetables. Some people have dietary restrictions where they must watch sodium intake. Some people have the privilege to worry about those kind of things. I get it. At the same time, I don’t understand the shaming. Is fresh better? Yes. Is canned so bad that we need to make people feel lesser about it? No. So, if a recipe calls for canned goods, and it is not the way you do things, nothing says you can’t alter the recipe yourself. That does not make the recipe “bad”, it makes it not for you. And if you just absolutely cannot stand it, just move on. It really is that simple. So, yes. I try to use fresh where possible, but in this stew, canned works just fine!

Anyhow, let me hop off my soap box.

My family loves to eat this stew with some cornbread muffins. It always seems to hit the spot! It takes a long time to make, but it is worth it!