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: May Goals
I want to get all of my books shipped to the United States this month. Over Golden Week I started boxing all the ones to be shipped and it's not as bad as I expected it to be. I thought for certain I'd have like eight boxes of books but as I type this it looks like it'll be more like four. I'm not very good at estimating sizes for packing things up, so I definitely underestimated my ability to fill boxes.
2: Where do you want to be next year?
I would love to be agented with a pending book deal. That's a huge wish. I've been keeping an eye on the publishing news through Twitter and it sounds like things are pretty dire/extra difficult in the querying trenches right now, so that has me worried...
I would also like to be working somewhere in education (most likely I'll end up teaching again) where I'm paid my worth and I don't have to take on a second job to make money. Working two jobs + grading papers all the time = no time to write books. So I'd like to be in a place where I can actually afford the time to write.
Ok, so I need a key hook in my apartment or I will perpetually lose keys. This is a fact.
I've lost parts of my keychains, too. I was so sad, I commissioned Kohi Chapps to do art and make a keychain of my sweet boy Aoba from Dramatical Murder. The product was excellent and the artwork gorgeous, and...I lost the keychain within a week. I must've knocked it loose somehow. I looked down and it was suddenly gone.
One time, I left my keys in the refrigerator. I have no idea why. This is the type of brain that I have.
4: May the Fourth Be With You
I remember not watching Star Wars until middle school when everyone had already seen it (I distinctly recall a classmate wiggling their nose at me when I asked what Star Wars was once). The originals used to play on USA Network and we would tape them from the TV and watch them.
I saw the extended versions and the prequels and sequels in the theater. I had mixed feelings about all of them, but overall, I really enjoy the franchise. I do not have Disney + so I haven't seen The Mandalorian or other shows, and I haven't seen the spin-off movies set in the Star Wars universe. I don't know if I will. If I get Disney + I'm sure all of my attention will be spent on the MCU instead!
5: Who do you want to be seen as?
I would like to be a respected, trusted writer and teacher. I would like to be seen as a kind, genuine person.
6: No pants day
Every day when I come home from work is no pants day. As soon as I'm off the clock, it's just a tee shirt and my undies...although sometimes I will wear what I call The Queen's Robe™ which is an absolutely luxurious bathrobe I got myself to stay warm in the winter.
7: Beer pong day
Well, I've never actually played beer pong and I don't ever expect to.
8: VE day
I'm ashamed I had to Google this. This is the day the Germans surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, marking the end of World War II (VE stands for Victory in Europe).
This was a horrific war upon which I can only look with grief. I'm glad it ended and the Allies won. It was a devastating time and it hurts to think about it.
9: Where do lost socks go?
This is going to date me terribly, but I think they go with The Underpants Gnomes from South Park!
10: Out of Office
I have never had the luxury of being able to put up an "out of office" memo for a job. As an adjunct, being out of office meant you didn't get paid (due to no benefits), and students emailed you at all hours expecting responses, as well as colleagues doing the same thing. I had no work-life balance as an adjunct, and that's why I'm hoping if I teach again, I get a better deal than what I had before.
11: Student or teacher?
Even though I'm a teacher, honestly, I would love to be a lifelong student. I loved school, and I love learning. I would love to go back and get a PhD but I can't afford it. I've borrowed almost the max possible loans allotted, and that was for my MFA. And the debt that I'm in is an incredible amount. I can't even afford to pay the interest on my loans.
If I could, I would just take classes forever.
12: Limerick Day
I remember when we did a tour of Ireland during our spring break from Trinity College in Carmarthen, and we actually went to Limerick. On the bus, we had a limerick-writing contest there and I won it, and got a little golden metal harp bookmark as a prize. Unfortunately I don't remember the limerick that I wrote.
I guess there's an expectation that I should write one and I came up with this off the top of my head:
A girl in a cable-knit sweater
Thought more than all she was better
With her nose in the air,
she had little to care,
She was a snob down to the letter.
I know so many people who eat this and I've never tried it. It just never looked appealing to me.
All I can think of when I hear this phrase is the movie with Ewan McGregor, which I have never seen.
Since Moxie Books is from the UK, I saw that this is slang. According to Google by way of Reddit, "Trainspotting is a colloquial 80's British term that means 'being obsessed with any one trivial topic'.'"
I guess I could go off on tangents and make PowerPoints about historical costume! I don't remember all the terminology but I can usually identify the time period (within 10-20 years) just looking at the clothes. Or maybe I could just talk about costume in general. I love it so much.
15: Future jobs?
I think it would be cool if, I didn't want to teach, to work in an office at a college focusing entirely on study abroad programs and helping students choose, enroll, plan, etc. I would also help incoming foreign students studying abroad in the US.
I also wouldn't mind being a docent in an art museum again. I did that briefly in high school and it was a lot of fun.
16: The most frustrating part of your day
It's a tie between two scenarios. First would be during the school day here in Japan when I have hours of no classes. It's hard for me to fill the time because I've already planned the lessons for my final months, so I don't have to make materials for the classes again. Sometimes I'm given papers to grade, and that keeps me busy, but it's not consistent. So it's a struggle for me to find stuff to do. Usually I've been researching everything I need to do in order to go home, but can't do anything in that regard until I am home. Which leads me to the next frustrating thing...
When I come home from work. I have so much to do that I could work on, but instead I take off my pants and lie down almost immediately. Nothing gets accomplished. I just become a worm. So I get frustrated because I'm not accomplishing anything.
17: The most fulfilling part of your day
When I get writing done or when I have a class that goes well at school.
18: Write a letter
I did pretty recently! I mailed my mother an extremely late Mother's Day card and I wrote a...well, more like a note than a letter. It's a pop-up card featuring dolls of the Emperor and Empress, which makes it a Hinamatsuri card (and I bought it around that time). But I thought it would make a cool Mother's Day card and something special that looked very, very Japanese, so I sent it off. It was mailed only a few days before Mother's Day so there was no way it was going to make it there on time. Oh well.
19: Are you going on holiday?
I really, really want to. I haven't travelled anywhere since last April. But I have a lot of responsibilities and expenses towards going home that makes me feel guilty if I do decide to go somewhere.
However, I feel like I need to do something final to say farewell to Japan, so for a three-day weekend in June I'll be going to Takachiho. I've been there a few times for various shrines and I think it's one of the most important places in Japan when it comes to Japanese history and myth, so I think it's the perfect place to say goodbye.
I just hope I can enjoy the time and not feel guilty about being there when I have tons of work to do for going home in the meantime.
20: Are you weird?
Definitely. I talk to myself a lot, make strange noises, do weird things with my body, have odd tastes and get hyper-focused on random things...But I hope my weirdness is loveable.
21: Saturday plans
On the 21st I made plans to hang out with friends at Sakuramachi in Kumamoto City as a way to say farewell. I haven't hung out with anyone since 2019; I've only gone to work or done my outings solo. A lot of that was related to COVID plus a really long bout of depression where I just didn't feel like hanging out with anyone. So I'm glad I finally got off my butt and did!
22: Do you like Mondays?
Not really, and I think it's because of the whole "get back to work after taking a much-needed break." I just lose motivation to get back into the swing of things.
23: World Turtle Day
Two random thoughts about this: my cousin loves turtles so much she has a tattoo, and I've been trying to find a turtle present for her while I've been here.
Thought number two: When I did the Shikoku Henro, some of the Buddhist temples we were at had turtle imagery or turtle statues, but I don't know what they signify in Buddhism. I thought maybe they were a "world turtle" but Google is bringing up a variety of answers, such as wardens of protection, a prayer for the endurance of life, or a symbol of a monk's life.
24: What skills do you love using?
I love using my writing skills and costuming skills. As much of an energy and emotional drain writing can be for me, I love doing it and I love being able to tap into my skills at work or any time writing is unexpectedly needed. As for costuming, cosplay is my hobby and a creative outlet for me. It is quite difficult for me but I get a lot of joy out of it as well. I don't have a sewing machine or patterns to work off of; I just like to alter already-existing clothes, and that's what I like to do. It makes costuming easier.
25: National Towel Day
I have two towels that a friend got me here in Japan. I don't remember the occasion for the present but they're big, soft fluffy towels with a pretty sort of Rococo design, and even more special, she color-coordinated it with my apartment. I felt like she really cared for me given she paid attention to all of these important design details in my apartment. It was a really great present.
26: Do you drink alcohol?
I used to drink on social occasions and I sort of drank dangerously. I used it as a crutch to socialize or get flirty--I thought of it as liquid courage. I stopped drinking for two reasons: I wasn't socializing so much anymore, and then I can't drink alcohol with the meds that I'm on. So I just don't drink.
27: How much should humans work?
I think we should switch from 8-hour workdays to 4-hour workdays (while not losing any income. Pay should be raised, to be honest), or get three days off a week instead of two.
As for the length of work in our lives, I think working into our sixties is ok as long as we're given a lot of vacation and breaks over the course of our lifetime.
Or maybe, humans should only work as much as they want to, not because they need to.
28: Coffee: hot or cold?
Neither. I don't drink or like coffee.
29: Compost heaps
This probably wins as the most random topic for this month's prompts. I don't really know what to say about it, though. I don't do composting. I know it's good for the environment, so maybe I should. But also, I expect to always be renting, so I don't think I could just make a compost heap on a rental property out of nowhere.
30: National Creativity Day
This would have to be a day of thanks for me. Though the older I get, the more creatively stuck I feel, I think overall I am still a very creative person and have been for most of my life. I'm super grateful for that. My creativity goes towards writing, costuming, and drawing (though my drawings are still quite childish, I love doing it).
31: Celebrate your month!
This prompt has appeared every month and I'm not sure how to celebrate May aside from being happy I've made it to another one. May in Japan is beautiful. The weather is warm, the flowers are out...it's a lovely month. Hooray!