Kristina Elyse Butke
Moxie Books: June Writing Prompts
These prompts come from Moxie Books, a website from the UK that's devoted to helping out writers. There's a lot of fun stuff there to look at, so I hope you check it out. Anyway, these are meant to be daily prompts (and particularly used on Instagram) but I'm using them for a single blog post!
You're highly encouraged to follow the creator of these calendars, Vicky Quinn Fraser, on Instagram -- @tinybeetlesteps. You can do the posts daily on Instagram, too! Have fun with it!
1 - June goals
I have a massive amount of work ahead of me for June. I have to completely vacate my apartment and clean everything out by the end of July. I have the stuff I acquired in Japan over a six-year period, plus furniture and appliances from previous ALTs that got passed down to me. There is not a new ALT coming to my apartment, so it must be completely cleared.
I need to get into my closets this month. The closets have been storing all of the things I've shoved into boxes and bags during apartment inspections when I've had no place to put stuff after cleaning (basically hiding the evidence), and then years of other people's junk got stored in the closets as well.
My hometown of Kikuchi has a 12-category sorting system for trash (not including appliances and large items) and that's the reason why I haven't disposed of the majority of stuff...oftentimes I don't understand how to, even with the trash disposal guide written in English. So...I need to get trash disposed of in case it gets rejected, because July is my last chance to throw things away.
2 - This time next year
I honestly can't picture where I'm going to be besides being in America. I know that I'll need to stay in Ohio for a bit and work there in order to save up money to get a place to live on my own, but who knows what the job situation is going to be. I will probably be teaching again, but I don't know if I want to do that. My teaching situation (adjuncting) was a financial nightmare before I came to Japan and I don't want to go back to that. I hope to be working full time somewhere that pays me a living wage.
3 - If you could only eat one thing
It would probably be chicken. I eat it practically all the time anyway.
4 - Hands for feet or feet for hands?
I think I answered this in a previous monthly prompt! Anyway, I don't know if it would support my weight but I would choose hands for feet. I would like to have backup limbs to write in case something happens, and hands have a lot more dexterity and precision than feet.
5 - The moral of the story
When I think of stories with morals, I think of obvious ones like Aesop's Fables or fairy tales, where the moral is clearly expressed at the end (though not all fairy tales have this feature). I got exposed to these tales when I was really young, so not only were they stories meant to teach us how to read, but they also served as instruction for how to be a decent human. As an adult, I love fairy tales and love rewriting them, but I don't seek out stories with clear-cut morals and an overt message at the end. Sometimes morality is more complex than that. The gray area is much more of a challenge and I like to feel emotionally torn when I read stories. Give me gray situations and gray characters!
6 - Lazy sunny afternoons
I am the queen of these. In fact, almost all of my afternoons are lazy regardless of the weather. I stretch out on my couch bed and dive into my Kindle, or stream shows on Netflix or Amazon.
7 - World Caring Day
I didn't know this themed day existed. But I think we need it. As an outsider in Japan, all the news that comes to me from America is pretty bad. And the only other window I have to the US is through social media...and there seems to be a marked increase of selfishness and entitlement and overall nastiness coming out of the US (I can't speak for other countries or societies). It's depressing to see. I wish people were kinder, and while I appreciate we have a day to devote ourselves to caring for other people, it needs to be this way every day.
8 - Something nobody knows about you
I'm an open book to a fault. I don't think I really keep secrets about myself because I'm such a neurotic person and I need to share things as a coping mechanism and to do spot-checks with my mental health. So even if friends and family might not know things about me, someone else will, and that's usually my therapist.
I can think of one thing that people might not know about me--I really wish I could draw and make my own comics (closer in style to manga). I have a huge desire to do that for a living. I know in the future someday I might be able to write comics if I succeed well enough as an author, but I always wanted to make the art and story myself. Son of the Siren was originally supposed to be a graphic novel but I only made the cover and first page before giving up...my art technique wasn't there and it was very, very time consuming for me. But someday I would like to be able to do this, and sometimes this desire hits me stronger than being a novelist. I think that's the detail that may shock people.
9 - What's your love language?
I went ahead and took the 5 Love Languages Quiz and my dominant love language is Words of Affirmation. Here's what the quiz says about this love language:
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important— hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. You thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words that build you up.
This makes sense because I am someone who needs a lot of validation. But I have to be careful because I get confused when people are kind to me and I wonder if I deserve it or if they like me. I fall for people pretty easily when they are kind and say nice things.
My second love language is Acts of Service and I guess this shows that while I like hearing nice things, I often need actions to back it up, too. It got a pretty good chunk of my results so I think this is a substantial part of my love language even though it made second place.
10 - Favorite type of outdoors
First place is the forest and second place is the mountains. I love going deep into the woods surrounded by lush greenery, fresh air, and tall trees. And the mossier the forest, the better! I've been lucky because Japan is 67% forested land and I've seen some of the most beautiful forests ever while I've been here (and one of my favorite memories is Yakushima).
80% of Japan's land mass is covered by mountains and most of the mountains here are forested. I'm quite afraid of heights but the forests calm those fears for me, because while I'm walking through them it doesn't seem like I'm going to fall off the edge of a cliff. But I'm pretty out of shape, so going upward tends to kick my butt. Nonetheless, it's totally gorgeous.
I'm going to miss the forests and mountains when I leave Japan and head back to America. There's a lovely state park in the vicinity of where I lived in Ohio but it definitely is not the same, and lots of Ohio is cornfield anyway, so I'm going to miss the views and scenery of Japan very badly.
11- What cities can you navigate without a map?
I don't think I can navigate any city without a map. I rely on Google Maps way too much. But I'd say the closest would be Mansfield and Columbus. I know my way around both pretty well...or at least, I did. Living in Japan has sort of erased my memory of those locales and I can't remember what people are talking about when they mention different state routes to me. I no longer have a sense of place.
12 - International Falafel Day
I have never had a falafel, so I don't have anything to say about it!
13 - International Axe Throwing Day
There was actually one time in my life when I threw axes (little ones) and it was at a Renaissance Faire...I think the huge one in Dayton. I just remember there were all these different booths where you could launch stuff, like shooting arrows and tossing gladiuses, and I zipped through all of them just to say that I did it. I was pretty awful at it, though. I don't remember getting any axes to stick.
14 - International Bath Day
I prefer taking baths to showers. I love soaking in the tub, and when I wet my hair in the bath it dries a certain way that I like better than when I shower...it has more volume when it air dries after being in the tub.
Japan is the land of baths with its multitudes of onsen...but I don't like being publicly naked so I've not taken a part in the onsen culture here. There was one time at an English camp that I snuck into one when nobody was around...and I laughed because my giant boobs floated in the bath water!
15 - Soundtrack to your teenage years
The 90s and early 2000s had a wide variety of music, I think, and my tastes reflected that. Listening to Green Day, Pearl Jam, Lit, Savage Garden, Natalie Imbruglia, Madonna, Janet Jackson, En Vogue, Paula Abdul...I mean, I really got into everything.
16 - What does self-care look like to you?
This question is actually pretty hard for me because I think I neglect myself often and have trouble with self-care. I guess when I need to take care of myself I retreat a little bit and work on something artistic or read or watch movies and TV. I also treat myself to my favorite food or going shopping. If it's in moderation I think it's ok, but if I'm feeling down sometimes I overindulge in my comforts and that can be harmful in its own way.
17 - Is laziness real?
Yes, and I struggle with it frequently. I think it's tied to motivation, and in my case, it's often fear-based or used as an avoidance tactic because I'm afraid or overwhelmed.
18 - Is laziness bad?
I don't know if it truly is but I know society thinks so. And it makes me feel guilty all the time...so I guess it is bad, at least for me.
19 - Have you ever volunteered?
Yes, a long time ago. It was much easier to volunteer when I was a student in middle school and high school. I volunteered cleaning up a women's homeless shelter, doing drug-free educational shows with puppets, being a student mediator, and then being an art docent at the local museum. Once I got to college and became an "adult," I really lost the time to volunteer and instead I donate money to causes.
20 - Your favorite shoes
There's a pair of shoes that I absolutely will not get rid of due to sentimental value and they are my pointe shoes. They are literally filled with my blood and exemplify the beauty of dance and the absolute blood, sweat, and tears that come with it. I plan to keep my pointe shoes forever.
21 - Summer Solstice
In Japan, the equinoxes are celebrated as national holidays, but not the solstices. So for summer solstice this year, I don't have the day off, and I don't really have anything special planned. In Wales at Coleg Y Drindod it was celebrated as The Longest Day and they had silly events like a giant slip n'slide. I didn't partake because I was shy and didn't have friends who wanted to go with me. I wish I socialized more when I was in Wales.
22 - What can you cook really well?
I don't think I can cook anything well. I guess I'm good at breading chicken with panko. And I did a good job making frosting for cupcakes following my Mom's recipe. And one time I was told I did a good job making hamburgers and cheeseburgers for everyone when I lived in Ohio. But I don't make anything complicated that requires effort because I absolutely hate cooking, so I think that's why I don't think I'm any good at it.
23 - Rewrite a fairy tale
I did! It's my book, Son of the Siren. It retells the fairy tale Allerleirauh but also mixes aspects from other fairy tales together with it, namely The Six Swans and the tiniest dose of The Little Mermaid. I always wanted to blend multiple stories together and I think I did a successful job. It might be hard to recognize all aspects of each fairy tale, but I think Allerleirauh plays the largest role in the book, so readers might be able to spot that one easily.
Here's a teaser:
Prince Lirien lives a reclusive life in his tower as the shame of the royals of Ardeth. Not only is he the King's bastard, but he isn't entirely human. Years ago a siren seduced his father, and on one fateful night she comes back to claim the King by singing him into the sea.
Desperate to rescue his father from the siren's clutches, Lirien uses his beautiful voice and the hypnotic power of the siren's song to bring him back...
Only for the wrong person—the worst person—to fall under his song's spell. The Queen, Lirien's stepmother, has long hated him for being evidence of the King's infidelity. Enchanted by Lirien's voice, she becomes deeply obsessed with him, willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to possess him.
24 - Childhood friends
I've gone through friends over the years. I'm not really close to any of my childhood friends anymore, and I don't talk to my friends from high school. In my twenties I took the nuclear option and cut out swathes of people in my life who were unhealthy and harming my recovery from severe mental illness, and my life improved dramatically without them being a part of it. From now on I choose friends way more carefully, and to be honest I socialize a lot less than I used to anyway, so I have only a handful of people I can count on. But they happen to be the best people ever!
25 - Your favorite room
There's a room in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that served as a bedroom, and not only does it have a lush, lavish bed, but the ceiling is decorated with cherubs. I don't remember if it was Italian or French design, or if it was from the 17th or 18th century, but it looked like a room a king would sleep in.
The chamber with the Hunt for the Unicorn tapestries at The Cloisters is another one of my favorite rooms in the world.
26 - Good decision you made recently
On May 21st when I met with friends in Kumamoto City we went to a shop I'd never been to before called Lashinbang that is one floor above the Animate store (which I have been to). It sells secondhand anime and manga goods. My friend directed me towards all the doujinshi and the store was closing in like ten minutes...my bad decision: I bought a Nenderoid of Yuri Lowell and an acrylic figure of Zhong Li...but my good decision was not to go back into the store the next morning to buy doujinshi. I had already shipped a bunch of books back and I was sorely tempted to buy more but I think I bought enough.
27 - Do you have any regrets?
Ohhhh, tons. I regret my entire behavior in my 20s because that's when my bipolar disorder was really bad, we were struggling to find the right medication cocktail, and I was an utterly destructive person during this time who obliterated relationships and acted very, very poorly. During this time period I also wrote my plays/musical and directed or assisted, and I was so very, very unprofessional. Cruel at times. I was not in the right mental place to be working with, let alone being in charge of, other people. I completely regret my behavior as a director. I was an asshole. And for some reason, I thought it was acceptable to be an asshole because asshole directors are often celebrated (and I worked with a few of them in my time). Plus, I was really, really ill at the same time, too and just was out of control. I regret that entire period of my life. It still haunts me to this day.
28 - INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY
I TEND NOT TO WRITE WITH CAPS UNLESS I'M CONVEYING EXTREME EXCITEMENT IN A SOCIAL MEDIA POST OR AN EMAIL OR AM TRYING TO BE FUNNY. I DEFINITELY AVOID WRITING IN CAPS IN MY BOOKS AND USE ITALICS FOR EMPHASIS INSTEAD.
29 - What's your favorite Star Trek?
I don't ever remember watching it in its entirety but I was a huge fan of The Next Generation growing up and even watched its movies in the theaters (my favorite being First Contact). I look on it with a lot of nostalgia and even remember random phrases like "neopeptide cake."
30 - Celebrate your month! I actually don't think I'm going to have a lot to celebrate in June. I predict that I will be completely stressed with leaving, and then on top of that, it's the start of the rainy season, so I bet I'll be freaked by all the inevitable emergency evacuation notifications we seem to get every year warning of potential floods and mudslides. This time of year always heightens my anxiety in Japan and I hate the rainy season with a passion. It genuinely scares me.
...What a way to end this month's post! Full-on negativity, whee!