For junior year of college, Angelique and Rosalia wanted to move out of the dorms and stay in an apartment. Apartments hold more people of course, so we were invited to all be roommate together! Yay! We did a little bit of hunting, and decided on a place that happened to be across the street from the house Kahoko was staying in. I had to think really hard to remember anything that stood out from junior year after that, because most of it was pretty average college roommate stuff. But before that we all went to Otakon, where we got a giant Saiyuki cosplay group together (mostly thanks to Kahoko, because she lived in the Otakon area and had a bunch of friends to say, "Hey, dress as this character!" to) and even got a Power Wheels Jeep to drive around the convention center. I remember Anime Expo's Translator Guy spotting us and running over to get a photo.
There were some shenanigans our junior year. At one point, Kahoko told us about a girl she ran into who, after a bit of cajoling, admitted that she was an anime fan and had plans to watch Inuyasha that night. I don't remember why they were talking to begin with. Anyway, that led us to the belief that there were a lot more anime fans on campus than they cared to admit, so we tried to start a movement to unite them. We printed up neat fliers like a wanted poster for Vash, and posters trying to find Miaka (because she'd gone missing, you see), lost pet posters (I think the one we printed was of Ryoga from Ranma 1/2 as a pig), each with a link to the forums we started up. But it didn't work for a few reasons. There was a little lack of enthusiasm, and there was the matter of the president of the sci-fi club being like, "No, my club is the anime club!" and taking our fliers down. So it was short-lived, and it actually doesn't have much else to do with future angst, just that if we're going into our college life, we might as well mention it.
There was also the matter of Jeep. He was an adorable little stray cat that I found one day when I was visiting another apartment in our building to ask if we could have our group's Family Home Evening there. It was February and cold, and he looked so cold that I couldn't just leave him out there, so we took him in. We opened the door and he meowed at us like, "What took you so long?" But when we asked the manager if we could keep him, she called the landlord and he said no because he's lame (this was a general consensus of most of the residents of our building), so there was a little back and forth sending him to Kahoko's place (whose landlady had a legitimate reason for refusing pets) and back to ours until the maintenance guy discovered him and we had to give him away. We named him Jeep because Saiyuki was the Posse's theme anime.
But the main thing that stood out to us our junior year of college is that that's when Dad ran away from home. I think that's probably why we don't remember much of that year--there were too many issues to want to.
There was one other Very, Very Important Thing that happened our junior year. I think I've told this story in several other posts, so now I'll paraphrase. Angelique told us the information that led to us interning at TokyoPop. And so it was decided that we would be going home for the summer after all (we weren't entirely sure before that time, but since TokyoPop is based in LA and our family lived in LA County, it worked out). The internship was very awesome, and of course it's what started our career as translators. They liked us there so much that one of the people there was so sad to see us go that she said, "You go to college, you lose!" She was totally joking about it, but those words turned out to be a kind of foreshadowing.
After being away for so long, because we're so shy and stuff, I was a little worried about how it would be fitting back into the group, especially since they had spent the whole summer together. Things would be made even worse by the fact that Kahoko, who had been there for the summer and was kind of the glue that held the Posse together, had decided to go home to the East Coast that year because of health problems. We've always had a hard time going up to groups of people that were talking and laughing together and asking them to let us join in, so the fact that Angelique and Rosalia had guests over when we arrived on our first day back didn't help. We were feeling awkward already, and then when we went to take off our shoes (out of habit), Dad pointed out that we were just going back outside again (to get all our stuff out of the car), and they all laughed. And so we hid in our room for the rest of the day. Maybe that was our mistake.
The year started off alright, I think. We went straight into the same routine we had the year before. I don't know what led to things going wrong. The first thing I remember was one day as we were watching Saturday morning cartoons and eating breakfast, we went to wash our cereal bowls and saw a sign. Athena and I like to have grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, and apparently it had started to bother Angelique that we would leave the knife out and the top off of the butter dish. But for some reason, instead of asking us about it, she decided to write up a very neat little sign telling us to please put the top on the butter dish and (and this I remember very distinctly because of the whole "don't end a sentence with a preposition" thing, which I always thought was kind of dumb but have hated even more ever since this incident) "put away the knife." Maybe a saner person would have just shrugged at the sign and followed its instructions, but the fact that she put it there instead of talking to us indicated that there was something wrong with us to the point that she couldn't talk to us. We're very insecure, you see.
And so we didn't take this well at all. I think we should have done something like say, "Hey, what's up with this sign?" I want to blame the fact that things were still kind of awkward and we were still tense about everything. Athena's reminding me right now of the incident when we needed to go grocery shopping. In junior year, Angelique had always taken us grocery shopping, and we had plans to do just that, but they kept getting put off. Once it was because we were buying books or something, and once it was because Angelique had forgotten and made plans or something, until finally she said, "Give me a list and I'll just go." Athena says that she remembers thinking back on that much later and realizing that that may have been the first sign that she wasn't comfortable with us anymore. It happened before the sign thing.
Anyway. Being the immature people that we were (and perhaps still are), instead of confronting her, we were hurt that she was afraid to confront us and decided not to confront her (one of our Bishopric members recently pointed out that wickedness is not rational), and as soon as the cartoon ended, we turned off the TV and went to hide in our room. Angelique must have noticed something was up because we didn't wait for the credits. We always wait for the credits. She came upstairs (where the bedrooms were; the kitchen and living room were downstairs, and it was actually pretty neat) and asked us what was wrong. I don't remember what happened after that, but it obviously wasn't very smart of us, because that sounded like a good opportunity to solve the problem.
After that, she started avoiding us more and more. We used to walk to class together, but one day we waited and waited and she never came, so we left because we had class. An assertive person may have knocked on her bedroom door and asked if she was coming. We used to watch Gilmore Girls with Angelique, but she stopped coming down for that one day. We found out a couple of hours later that she had set the timer to record the later showing (for some reason we got Utah's WB and California's WB two hours later). It was pretty funny because it was our TV. We really wish that we had turned off the timer and instead recorded the episode but paused it so there wouldn't have been any commercials. That way, we'd be doing a service and letting her know we were on to her.
Of course we didn't do nothing about this. (That's probably bad grammar, but oh well.) We wanted to still be friends, so when we got the third Saiyuki vocal collection, we wanted to share it with them, because it has a drama about cell phones that's hilarious. And it had Kougaiji's first image song, which we knew Rosalia would appreciate, since her Saiyuki character was Kougaiji. But maybe our timing was bad; Angelique just read her comic book the whole time, and Rosalia stayed glued to her computer (but that was normal for her, and she actually did make comments).
When we realized things were awkward, we thought we'd do something we all enjoy together and thus break some ice and make things a little more comfortable for everyone. Angelique had expressed an interest in watching The Sword in the Stone once when we expressed an interest in buying it, so we invited her and Rosalia to join us when watching our new DVD. And they both did, but there was almost none of the fun talking we used to have when watching stuff as a posse. And one time it was suggested that we all go to the ward talent show (by either us or Rosalia; can't remember which), but we might as well have gone by ourselves for all the social interaction that went on.
To Rosalia's credit, she also tried to make things better. She invited us to watch some movies with them. One time we joined them for The Ducktales Movie, and, in our feeble attempts to bridge gaps, we tried talking about the cartoons we used to watch when the movie was over. When we realized they weren't going to join in, we went back to work in our room (I believe we were on volume four of Fruits Basket at the time), and we heard the sound of Angelique coming back to life as they put in the movie they really wanted to watch.
Okay, so that was actually a very bad example of Rosalia helping, but she did very emphatically say to the three of us one night, "We need to talk." This was the first of the discussions where Angelique repeated over and over that we hadn't done anything; she just forgets.
The avoidance had gone beyond regular avoidance. Angelique would invite people over and not say a word to us about it. The worst was when she had a pizza party. I think almost everyone who knows us knows that that's one of the few things we eat, and we had been home all afternoon with our bedroom door wide open, impossible to miss, so we felt like that was an outright snub. But apparently she just forgot.
Like I said, we had a hard time interrupting a group of people and asking them to let us join them, so to work around this social anxiety of ours, we decided that we would just be in the living room when people came, and then we'd automatically be part of the group, right? So one Friday, we planted ourselves in the living room (we always got home before the others, because we're homebodies and they had friends on campus to socialize with, and probably later classes). But just sitting in the living room was boring, so we played video games while we waited. Angelique and Rosalia came home, and Angelique started cooking dinner for people, because she had invited a few friends over. But instead of joining us in the living room, where there was actually seating, they all stayed in the stairwell, a safe distance from us. I don't think we were being especially forbidding (we were just playing video games, but if we have a hard time joining groups, maybe they had a hard time joining people already absorbed in a video game).
Another time, they had made plans to play some tabletop RPGs at our apartment, but when they saw that we had taken over the living room, they whispered to the friends that got their early that they had changed the location, and contacted everyone else, and then they all went to a different apartment.
Thinking about it now, our tactic could very easily be seen as a passive aggressive way of taking over the living room, which is kind of what it turned into later, but I do think the original intention was to make it easier to include ourselves. We even realized that it wasn't fair of us to always take over the living room, and decided to stay in our room some nights.
We went through several video games (to maintain our hold on the living room) until we finally settled on Final Fantasy IX. We always like reading the parts out loud, and we steeled ourselves because it's awkward to be doing a readers' theater kind of thing with other people around who weren't interested. It was really weird, though. At some point while we were playing, Angelique and Rosalia decided to come watch. Rosalia may have commented, but Angelique never said a word. It was one of those nights when we were playing FF9 that our Bishop showed up. I know Athena and I didn't say anything to him, and I think Rosalia and Angelique denied it as well. But I also know that we would tell our tale of woe to anyone in the ward who would listen, and they could all see it happening, so I wouldn't be surprised if it came up in a meeting with the Relief Society president. He didn't really know what had been going on, and since we were all playing video games "together," it may have seemed strange to him that he needed to be there at all. But he talked to us about how sometimes friends do things to upset each other and we need to be patient and work them out or something like that. I don't remember it very well. Not that it was so trite or cliche, but because it was a long time ago, and I seem to remember thinking, "But we have no idea what we did wrong!"
We all listened in what must have been a very awkward silence, and afterward we asked Angelique, "What did we do wrong?" And she very emphatically repeated, "Nothing!"
It was really very aggravating. And it didn't help that none of our friends online believed any of it. Kahoko didn't, and neither did our other main online friend (we'll call her Nozomi) who had actually come to visit with her friend (we'll call her Saku) that school year. We were really worried about how it would turn out, since things were already awkward at the time of the visit, but when Nozomi and Saku were visiting, they acted the same as always. We thought things would go back to the way they had been before, since we would have proven that we are all friends after all, but as soon as Nozomi and Saku were gone, Angelique shut off again. But because she was able to turn whatever it was on when they were visiting, Nozomi wouldn't believe what was going on, either.
It was kind of like what happened with Kisa in Fruits Basket, only Angelique didn't start giggling every time we talked. That's probably actually a very good thing. Still, it's kind of ironic that Angelique was the biggest Fruits Basket fan of the group. Incidentally, we did come up with the theory that she was jealous because we were translating Fruits Basket. It didn't help that while we were interning, we were asked if we knew any other people who could translate, so we posted on the forums I mentioned earlier (hey, they did come into play!) about the offer. I made the post in Japanese because that way, if someone wasn't confident that they were able to read it, they'd know they weren't right for the job. Angelique did manage to read it. It seemed like she understood enough of it that she could guess the rest from context, which is sometimes all you need in a translation. Still, we had seen how she does under pressure and with deadlines, so we advised her against it. What we should have done was say that we didn't think it was necessarily a good idea, but if she was confident enough, we would give her the contact information. But that's not what we did (we didn't think of it until much later; like I said, we need more training), and so we thought that was grounds for her to hate us. I posted my theory on the posse's blog, changing the names to protect the innocent as usual, but Rosalia assured us that that was not the problem.
Of course I'm sure there were better ways to deal with it. We just had no idea what they were, and since we were very insecure, and immature, and lacking in training with people, we couldn't think of them. Not anything that didn't terrify us, anyway. Plus, we had tried communicating before and it didn't work, so we probably decided it was pointless. I hope we didn't scar Angelique for life with anything we did, but it's possible we scarred her even before that. At any rate, she had other friends, so I think she was probably able to make it through. We found out later, after we had moved back home and Kahoko had moved back to Utah, that Angelique was doing the same thing to someone else, so Kahoko finally believed us (she had started suspecting we were right before, but now she knew), and she informed us that they were going to confront her about it. Out of consideration for our feelings, she assured us that we wouldn't have to hear about anything that went on. We were still in shock from everything and all the new problems we were dealing with, so we didn't think to say, "Are you kidding me!? We need closure! Give us an in-depth play by play of the entire confrontation! We want everything down to the merest twitch of the eyebrow!!!!"
For our part, we gained a testimony that, while people are free to do what they choose, God still loves us and is taking care of us. Our roommate situation may have sucked royally, but we had very good home teachers and visiting teachers that year. Our home teachers would bring us treats on holidays, which is why I associate the scarily frosting-covered cookies with Valentine's Day (they also gave us a bottle of sparkling cherry juice), and our visiting teachers let us call and hang out with them whenever we needed to. Of course, we're always afraid of intruding, so we didn't take advantage very often, but it was still nice. And we made a new friend who would come over to watch Gilmore Girls with us (and it turned out that she went to high school with the English dub voice of Tohru). So we were never quite alone, and that was nice.
Still, what with two semesters of that, followed by Mom's courtship with Steve, we figure it's no wonder we're so terrified of people and insecure these days. We're getting better, I think.
And that's that, I think. It's really hard to explain what all went down that year, especially now that so much time has passed. We're not really angry about it anymore. Still scarred, but not angry. But what's life without a few scars, right? They build character, after all.
But more importantly, yesterday we had a knock on the door that scared Oreo under the covers. It probably doesn't help that our current home teacher likes to use the (very loud) knocker. That's right, it was our home teacher! And carrying on the tradition of home teachers doing things for the families they teach on Valentine's Day, he brought over a heart-shaped box of ferrero roche chocolates. It was very sweet of him, and we wish we had thought to invite him in before he left, but our training with people is severely lacking. It's no excuse, of course--just a reminder to do better next time. Remember the training!!
Today I'm thankful for thoughtful home teachers, those chocolates they brought for treats in Relief Society today (they tasted like if you make a glass of Nesquik, only you had a ton of powder at the bottom that you didn't mix into the milk enough; so yummy), the Puzzle Place, character building experiences, and chances to talk about shoujo manga♥