It’s technically Wednesday, December 26th where I live, but it’s still Christmas to me, dammit!
I’ll talk about the releases in the second, but if you don’t mind humoring a (relatively) old man in an (extremely) young milieu that is the scanlation world, I have a small story to tell you.
I’m a generally pretty miserable person. My life I’m not looking for anybody’s sympathy or care, it’s just a matter of fact. The root cause of that is pretty much all my fault and nobody else’s. Since late 2016, I’ve had the opportunity given to me to put my career ahead of all other things in my life and I accepted. I had been routinely working between 12 and 15 hours (sometimes even more) a day, seven days a week. Go to bed late, wake up very early every single morning. In 2017, there were a total of 12 or 13 days across the whole year that I didn’t work. As I continued to work, I was raking up money at a rhythm that I only dreamed was possible. On top of that, I had started working out. I was very heavy mid-2016. I had started eating properly and working out (mostly 90+ minute walks uphill), which lead to me losing roughly 100 pounds since June 2016. I gained some of it (20 lbs) since, but I’m working out 6 days / week pretty much every week. The gym was closed on the 25th, so this week will only be 5 days out of 7.
Sounds pretty good, right? Make a lot of money and lose a ton of weight, what’s there to complain? But yet here I am, even more miserable than I’ve ever been. Fact is, while I don’t regret the lifestyle change to lose weight for a second despite hating every moment of it, I regret that I sold myself as a greedy whore. It was probably one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made.
Next thing I know, it’s the beginning of 2018. I worked over a year like crazy and the days flew by like it was nothing. It didn’t even register that Christmas had blown by, that instead of seeing my family I was at work. I didn’t complain, the money I was making was dizzying. Meanwhile, I was out of scanlations. Go see what Illuminati-Manga was releasing between June 2016 and October 2018. Wasn’t much there.
This continued for a good chunk of 2018 too, until things turned bad. (More on that later)
I kind of knew that I was sacrificing time with my friends and other people I cared for to make money, but I always able to rationalize it to myself. “I’ve scanlated for free over hundreds upon hundreds of hours, why not use that free time to make extra money?” It always sounded good to me. It made sense. But sacrificing time came to the point that I missed out important events in my life. I missed my mother’s birthday twice. I didn’t celebrate (much) my birthday for the last three years. I didn’t celebrate Christmas in 2016. I missed one of my good high school friend’s marriage this summer – hell, I didn’t even know he was getting married until I saw it on Facebook – because he didn’t think I’d even think about giving up a day of work on a weekend to attend. I missed a bunch of other things of that nature. People that used to talk to me often either talked with me a lot less or just flat out stopped talking to me altogether. I wouldn’t get invited to anything because they always knew that I’d refuse.
My work had become my life. The beginning, the interlude and the end. There was virtually nothing in-between.
Around the middle of 2018, the overtime was lessened by management. I could still do some, but not the 90+ hours of work I was doing every week. I was doing roughly 60. I started getting my weekends back, which was nice and slightly confusing. I now had all the time in the world, but with nothing to do.
Then something happened in October 2018. More precisely October 25th. It was a regular day like any other, before I got a phone call from a British friend of mine. She was my best friend’s ex girlfriend from many years ago and I had gotten to know her when she visited town. She was in tears and needed a place to stay for a few days because she broke up with her boyfriend of two years. I had a spare room and agreed. I figured, nobody’s home and I could use someone to talk to at night when I get home. I meet her downtown, give her the keys to my place and find her at home after I’m done work. She’s obviously down and I try to cheer her up as best I could, despite nothing being able to do much. Breakups are never fun. She told me she needed to stay for the weekend to figure out what she was going to do. She’s on a vacation visa and therefore can’t work because she’s on “vacation” of sorts. I spend a good chunk of the weekend with her, talking about a whole bunch of things. It was fun and she seemed to enjoy it. She mentioned that she was beginning to learn French and wanted spots to go study during the day, I had suggested a large library not too far away from where I worked. A lot of books to read, along with some peace & quiet (most of the time anyway) to study.
After that weekend, she asked me if she could walk home with me after I was done working. I agreed because the weekend was fun. So we walked home, a good 80-90 minute walk. Once home, she asked if I could help her with her French. French is my birth tongue and it’s still terrible, but it’s good enough to help a beginner out. And the day after, and the day after that. Next thing I know, this is out daily routine. We have our meeting spot and we’d text to see what the time of our meeting would be before walking home and working on her French. This wasn’t much, but I didn’t need much. It was a shinning light in my miserable, stale, boring life. She eventually told me she’d stay until the end of November, to which I agreed to. I was really happy that she was staying. No, I wasn’t just “really happy”, I was ecstatic. As time went on, she asked if she could stay until her visa ran out at the end of February. I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
Eventually, I noticed that I was developing feelings for her. I knew this was a
bad terrible idea because she just got out of a bad breakup, she’s leaving in a few months (with no real timeline as to when she would ever return to see me, if she ever did come back) and she’s still in love with my best friend. Brain says one thing, heart says another. So around the beginning of December, I shoot my shot. It was a terrible failure to no surprise. For a week, things were awkward between us and in the middle of the week I said some pretty stupid shit that in hindsight I never should have said. We ended up having a discussion (by discussion, I really mean I was read the riot act) and cleared some things up. Prior to that conversation on that night, I thought she was going to tell me she was going to move out. I was terrified. Thankfully, she didn’t want to move out and I was so relieved.
About two weeks prior, I was reprimanded at my work. All of my overtime was stopped and I was placed under investigation. I was not told what, why, when, where or anything about it. Just that my bosses had preoccupations regarding my work and that they were building a file on me. One of the punishments could be a firing. A month later, mid-December, I was officially invited to a meeting where I was given numerous examples questioning my work. I didn’t know how to answer most of their inquiries as they happened months ago and I have no real memory of those specific days. Based on what they told me, there’s a good chance I could get fired.
This obviously stressed me out and made me extremely anxious. As the days went by, the stress and anxiety remained, but a good amount of it had dissipated. It isn’t an easy situation because I feel defenseless and in a position where I don’t even know how to answer properly. I don’t even know when they’ll decide on whether or not I’ll continue to work there. But the more I think about it, the less and less I care.
Yesterday (or two days ago, because I’m a slow-ass writer and it’s now the 26th), I came home from the gym and the woman staying with me gave me a Christmas present. It was a card in an envelope. I opened it and read it. It was all in handwritten French, with a bunch of our inside jokes. You couldn’t swipe the smile off of my face for the rest of the day.
Before I started writing this post, it was about 11:30PM on December 25th. On this line, it’s about 2:25AM on December 26th. Right before I started writing, I had the card next to my keyboard. She had already gone to bed. I re-read it a little more slowly and carefully.
I wasn’t able to finish reading the card before I started crying.
It’s then that it all clicked for me. I didn’t care for those numbers that represent my “wealth” in my back account. I didn’t care about my job that has a pension and benefits that come along with the salary. A decade ago, I always thought that those would make me happy and secure in my life. And yet, here I was for close to two years, as miserable and unfulfilled as I’ve ever been in my life.
I was missing out on the things I really wanted. The people I care about. Money won’t build you friendships, at least not in any meaningful sense. I’ve come to regret all the time I spent away from my friends, my family, my group, my hobbies in the pursuit of that greedy whore called money. While it would hurt my future prospects in a multitude of ways, part of me wishes I’ll get fired. Part of me wishes I can get crushed back down to the very bottom of the ladder and get stuck there for a while.
It’s a long winded way of saying, don’t end up like me. Don’t waste your life away chasing that which is not truly meaningful. Money comes and goes, real friends who will risk their neck for you don’t. Spend your time and efforts on the people you love and who love you back for you.
On a less gloomy note, here are the releases. There’s a bunch of stuff that, as usual, we couldn’t finish. Since we’re old and broken, see image at the top, we couldn’t do all that we could. So come back a week from now, hopefully they’ll be done by then…
Alice in Hell 37 (!AIH37) – The plan was to finish the volume for Christmas, but ckrit (the translator) got sick and went on vacation, so this is the only chapter we received. Whenever he comes back, we’ll have some chapters for you.
Me & The Devil Blues 32 (!Blues32) – Firstly, my apologies to Royal for disappearing. I plan on finishing the next two chapters in a relatively quick manner… I hope. The last two chapters aren’t do bad in terms of redraws.
Tokyo Alien Bros 07 (!TAB07) – I’m a big fan of Keigo Shinzo. I’ve bought almost all of his works in Japanese and I’ve bought everything that’s been licensed in French. So when I saw there was the possibility of working on this series with SevenFacedBird, an excellent translator that was recommended to me by our own laika, I couldn’t say no. I will not so humbly state that this might be the best looking chapter that we’ve ever put out.
By the way, if you want to see what was probably the best chapter released today, read Atelier du Noir’s Kilroy Was Here.