My 2017 by the numbers

2573 song tracks scrobbled to  This is a fairly random number — I actually listened to much more.  The artists I played most included Joe Hisaishi, The Shins, Finest Kind, The Idan Raichel Project, and Delta Rae.  My top album was the Hamilton soundtrack.

209 kanji learned.  I can only read, not write, and it’s not as many as I would like, but it’s gratifying that little by little the world around me is becoming more comprehensible.  I also enjoy the “aha” moments of learning what kanji make up words that I’ve already learned.  For example, I knew “chairo” meant brown, but I didn’t know it was written 茶色: 茶 = tea (“cha”) and 色 = color (“iro”).  So brown = “tea color!”

42 new books read.  This is less than my 2016 record of 54, which I shall claim is the result of having a social life (though some of the time was in fact spent watching The Great British Bake Off and other shows…).  It’s hard to pick favourites, but I particularly enjoyed The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and Ancillary Justice.

23 new friends on Facebook.  Most of these are from the Tokyo Embassy Choir, which I joined in the fall of 2016.  Auditioning was the best thing I’ve done since moving here: not only is it wonderful to be singing regularly, but I finally made friends and found a community outside of work. cf. having a social life and reading fewer books.

14 international plane flights.  I traveled internationally approximately every other month, which was far more than I anticipated at the beginning of the year.  In addition to spending just too much time sitting on planes, I felt bad repeatedly abandoning my kitty.

10mg of escitalopram that I am no longer taking.  Escitalopram (brand name Lexapro) is an antidepressant that I started taking around 2011 for depression and anxiety.  For a variety of reasons that I won’t share in detail here, I wanted to see how I would feel without it.  Tapering off of an antidepressant is often rough, and my experience was no exception.  I felt tearful and emotionally fragile for a long time.  In fact, I still cry a lot more now than I have in recent memory.  However, I also feel many positive emotions more intensely, which makes me suspect that the medication was blunting all emotions to some extent.  It’s strange to respond emotionally to things now that I didn’t before, and I’m still adjusting to this new facet of my identity.

3 good friends visited Japan.  In 2017, my three best friends from high school, college, and grad school respectively each came to visit me in Japan!  It was wonderful to see them and travel to new parts of Japan together.  The song says, “make new friends, but keep the old / one is silver and the other gold,” and I’m truly grateful to have such golden friendships.

1 little black kitty.  Has it really been over 7 months since I adopted Sumi-chan?  Getting through the first 6 weeks, during which she wouldn’t let me near her and cried in constant distress, was the hardest thing I did this year, and also the thing I’m the most proud of.  As I write this now, Sumi is curled up next to me, where she has spent most of the last 2.5 days since I got back from California.  She’s still quite a talker, and spooks easily, but she’s also sweet and adorable and I love her.

Reading back over this post, I realise that it doesn’t reflect what was going on in the outside world during the past year.  But if you’re anything like me, dear reader, you probably need a break from the disasters and tragedies and outrages sometimes, so I’ll post this anyway and try not to feel too guilty.

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