Sep 30, 2011

Things I Like About Japan...

Being able to have Beano for a snack.

No no, not the flatulence-reducer.

ビーノ (Beano), a crispy snack made from peas and lots of delicious chemically altered ingredients found in tasty processed goods.
Whatever.  They're crispy.  They're salty.  They're good!


Sep 26, 2011

Weekend Adventures

This weekend was quite eventful, and very enjoyable!  Friday was my "moving/welcome" party at my new place, thrown by my boss.  There was he and his wife (who is sometimes my student), three of my coworkers, one of my coworker's son and his friend, and a student of mine.  There was lots of food, specifically okonomiyaki, and yaki-soba, veggies, snacks, and desserts.  And alcohol, of course.  No get-together in Japan would be complete without it (which i find funny because they're so strict about every other drug out there).  It was a lot of fun.  We gathered around the table to cook our food on the hot plates, and ate and drank and talked for a few hours, then everyone went home.

From left to right: coworker 1 and 2 (coworker 3 hadn't arrived yet), boss' wife, boss, coworker 1's son, his friend, and my student

The next day i met up with my friend from Kobe who was in Tokyo visiting his family over the three-day weekend.  I got up in the morning and tried my hand at making a Japanese(-ish) style bento, or box lunch.  I made tuna-mayo onigiri, tamago-yaki, some sliced cucumbers, and some grapes that were left from the party the night before.  Despite the seeds, i really love the grapes here.  I've only tried two bunches of grapes since i've been here, but both have been so deliciously sweet, tasting just like purple Welches grapejuice, yum!
Sweet Factory goodies!

Anyway, it was actually fun making the bento, albeit a little time-consuming, so i think i'll be making more for other outings in the future. :)  We drove out to Lake Town, which is about an hour from here (while there was a river i didn't see an actual lake while we were there though), ate the bento then spent a few hours in the *giant* mall there.  Sooooo many stores, and i was sad that i had to refrain from buying any clothes that day, haha.  I did spot a Sweet Factory kiosk and got extremely excited.  There used to be a Sweet Factory in the mall near my house where i grew up, and i went there often and got all sorts of sweet and sour gummies.  We decided to get a bag of (rather expensive) very natsukashii (nostalgic) candy.  Definitely a highlight of that mall, lol!

Got up Sunday to get ready to meet with S and our friend we'd met at UW, Gaki-chan!  It had been about six months since we'd seen him last.  He still had a few months left in Seattle when S and i left to go to Japan, so it was our first time since then to reunite.  Planned to meet at Shinjuku station at 2pm, and while S was late due to some bus-confusion from her place, Gaki and i both got there at 2, but it took us about a half-hour to find each other in the crazy maze that is Shinjuku station.  Really, that place is ridiculous and you should never use that station as a meeting place!  So i finally found Gaki-chan and we sat and talked and got caught up on recent happenings while we waited for S.  She got in about 2:30- around when G-chan and i had found each other- but then it took her a good 30 to 40 minutes to find us!  We told her to meet us in front of the Uniqlo that's right across from the Bic Camera just outside of the station, come to find out that there are actually two Uniqlos right across from Bic Cameras just outside of Shinjuku station, and as luck would have it she ended up at the ones on the complete other side of the station!  She called us and was like, "Okay, i'm at the Uniqlo across from the Bic Camera, where are you guys?"  We were convinced there was some sort of time warp or alternate reality that we'd somehow gotten into, but Gaki busted out one of his many i-Phone gadgets and discovered that she was on the other side of the station.
We finally met up, decided that we wanted to eat, but the izakaya that we went into wasn't going to be open for another 30 minutes, so in the meantime we went back to the dreaded station to find some lockers for S and G-chan to store their stuff in.  That was quite an adventure too, and it took us nearly 20 minutes to track down some coin lockers and then to find an unoccupied one.  Killed enough time at least that by the time we got their stuff stored and walked back to the izakaya they were open.  We were the first ones there and were promptly seated.  Nearly everything on the menu was 270yen (some "specialty" items were 380)- super cheap!  So we were able to eat a lot and sat talking for a few hours. 
Purikura nowadays like to make your eyes all big...

After the restaurant we decided to go take purikura (photo-booth pictures), since we'd never had the chance to take any with the three of us together, so we did that then looked around in the arcade and played a few games (they treated me because i'm trying to conserve money, and they're awesome like that).  From there we headed to the bowling alley (same one J, Yu-yu, Mr. Rich Man and i went to during Obon week) and played a round of cosmic bowling since all the normal lanes were full.  Didn't do as well as i had the it says- Eyes and legs like a Bambi!
last time, but it was still a lot of fun.  We got tickets to try one of the claw machines at the arcade downstairs.  Of course, as all claw machines are rigged we didn't get a prize, but S and G-chan succumed to the ruse of the arcade people and ended up spending maybe almost 1000yen each at one of the machines just outside of the building.  They both won something though, and won an extra thing for me!  :)
We decided then to head back to my place, and got back a little after 11pm.  They got some munchies and drinks at the convinience store on the walk to the apartment, and when we got there i made some pasta and we snacked and drank and talked until we couldn't stay awake anymore, then turned in for the night.
Woke up Monday morning, took our time getting ready, then headed to the Burger King by the station for lunch before parting ways since i had to work at 2pm.  It was definitely a good night, and we have more fun plans in the workings for the next couple months.  I'd recently been homesick for Seattle, but being able to meet up with my Seattle/UW friends like this has help quell that for sure. :) 

Chilling in the morning
Having it our way at BK!
 Oh, i do have to mention a blurb of conversation that happened while we were walking around trying to find the bowling alley:

S: (making loud comments [in English of course] about some hosts or pretty boys walking by)
Me: (to G-chan) "See what i have to deal with?"
S: "You only have to deal with it like once a month!...
    ....I'm like your period!"
That had us in stiches and probably drew more attention to us that normal.
Aaah, yes, definitely a great night!

Off to bed now.  Been good recently about keeping my "In bed by 1am, up by 10am" schedule.  Makes me feel like a normal human being, and not some nocturnal creature from the forest.  So, good night!  (Or good day, to those of you on the other side of the world).  **Edit:  Well, by now it's good day to me, and good night to the rest of you since my internet crapped out last night before i could post this!**

Sep 20, 2011

Catching up

Still leeching off my neighbor's internet, but it's been good enough today so i thought i'd make a post.

Biggest news recently-  ...i've moved!  The hoikuen/daycare i was working at 3 days a week wanted me to start working there semi-full time, and they offered me an apartment too.  It was definitely a hard decision, but hey, money talks trannies walk (sorry, Youtube video reference there...)  So i agreed, and moved out of the guesthouse where i got to live in exchange for "working" there 2 days a week.  It's the longest i'd stayed in one place since i got to Japan, just over 4 months.  The guys there were all awesome, and it was nice having people to talk to and hang out with at night.  It's definitely very quiet here in comparison.  Yet.. very clean!  No roach sightings yet *knocks on wood*, and no mosquitoes bothering me either.  But i sure will miss all the crazy drawings on the white board, hanging out on the rickety old chairs out front and getting yelled at by grumpy old intolerant men, and scaring my unsuspecting housemates.

Which reminds me, i have a pretty great story about that.  The scaring my housemate thing started a while ago, because one day i somehow happened to be standing right in front of the door right when he opened it three times in a row.  We laughed at it the third time, and i jokingly said, "From now on, anytime you open a door i'll be standing right there!"  After that, i tried to make that happen as much as possible.  I get such joy from scaring people, i can't explain why.  My poor coworker P from my job in Seattle suffered quite a bit because of that, since her reactions were so great that i couldn't help but scare her any time i had the chance.  But back to my housemate- a couple weeks ago, he had gone out for a walk late at night.  I was in my room about to go to bed when i heard the door unlocking, and knowing that it was him coming back from his walk i thought it would be the perfect opportunity to be waiting at the door to scare him.  I bolted out of my door and went to make the immediate sharp turn to get to the back door, which was not a brilliant idea while wearing socks and running on slick laminate floors.  I crashed, landing on one knee, just as he opened the door.  Not quite what i had in mind, but he was still a bit startled to see me "crawling toward him in the dark hallway".  My knee was quite beaten though, and is still sporting a very colorful bruise!  That was my last scare attempt though.  Lesson learned!
My supernova bruise!
I'm only a couple stops away from my old place though, and we have some movie nights planned soon too (Princess Bride, for the win!), and Mr. Boss Man has said he will invite me to any of the Saturday night parties that take place (which are supposed to happen once a month, but there was only one held in the four months that i was there!) so i will get to go back and see some of the students.  On my last two days teaching there i got gifts from a few of the students, including this shirt that the student decorated herself.  She's done calligraphy for many years, and likes to bestow her calligraphied gifts upon us.  This is the first i've gotten from her, and it made me happy.  :)  She had asked me a week before what my favourite Japanese word is, and after thinking for a bit i answered "wagamama", which means "selfish", haha.  Can't say i really have a favourite word though, but i do enjoy saying this one for sure.  Rolls off the tongue quite nicely.  :)  She has an exhibition coming up soon, being held down the street from me so i'll definitely be going to see it!
I'll get pictures of the new place up once i get a few more little organizing necessities.  Had intended to do that last night, but all my errands/shopping excursions yesterday ended up being a bust.  Today was quite exhausting so i'll probably be heading off to bed soon.  Thankfully this is a short week (holiday yesterday, and also on Friday!) and this weekend is looking to be quite exciting!

Sep 19, 2011

Nothing much, and lots of it

The lack of posting for a while was due to nothing really to post about.  Now there's lots to post about and not enough time to post about it!  
And not enough internet either.  Currently mooching off of some unsuspecting neighbor without password-protected wifi.  Definitely appreciative of that, but it's very slow and quite unreliable.  Once i have decent internet up and running i'll get back to posting about my oh-so-exciting (or not) life.

But here's a picture in the meantime, taken a couple weeks ago:

Sep 10, 2011


It was the summer of 2001.  I was in New York City on a school trip.  There were just a handful of us- some fresh out of 8th grade and ready to head into high school in the coming fall (including me), and a few just out of 7th grade, along with a couple of chaperone teachers and parents.  
On one of those days, i wasn't in a particularly good mood for some reason or another.  Our sightseeing brought us on the subway, then off at a stop that took us up and out at the base of one of the towers of the World Trade Center.  The group stopped, looking up in awe 110 stories into the clear blue sky.  I raised my camera, snapped a picture, and we continued on.

Approximately 3 months later, those buildings were wiped from the New York skyline for good.

For the past couple weeks, every time i've opened my web browser i'm met with pictures and headlines of stories and memoirs of the 9/11 attacks.  I think most everyone in the world is now is aware that it has been ten years to the day that it happened.  My students have been bringing it up the past couple weeks, asking for my story- where i was, what i was doing, how i felt..

It's hard to express exactly what i was feeling that day.  I was on my way to school when it happened, and i didn't find out until i arrived to the campus, hardly a month into my freshman year of high school, and was walking to my first class of the day- Theater.  One of my best friends, who was in the same class, came running out of the building toward me with a look of shock on her face, asking me, "Did you hear, did you hear?  We're getting bombed.."  
What?  Bombed??  Who's bombing who, where?  I followed her inside to the classroom where everyone was sitting or standing in dead silence, staring at the news blaring on the TV screen at the head of the room, showing scenes of the New York skyline, fire and thick clouds of smoke billowing from those skyscrapers i had stood looking up at just a few months before.  The scene progressed, one tower collapsing, followed by the other, engulfing the city in a cloud of debris and dust.
I really don't remember much after that.  School went by rather solemnly, some teachers following the requests from the administration, keeping the TVs off and trying to go about their daily lessons as if nothing happened despite the tension gripping the air, while other teachers caved and left the news on, knowing many wouldn't be able to focus anyway.
I was glued to the TV the rest of the day, and probably for a lot of the next, not quite able to swallow what was happening.  The memories of New York City were still so fresh in my mind that as i was watching the horrific scenes unfold from the news cameras recording the events from the streets, i could feel the adrenaline coursing through me and i could see me and my friends and fellow classmates and teachers there with them all, screaming and fleeing from the giant dust cloud as it worked its way down streets and alleys and over buildings, swallowing everything in its path like a huge relentless monster.  
I was just there, i kept thinking.  I was just there. 
I took out my recently-developed photos from the trip to look at the one i snapped looking up from the base of one of the towers.  I often looked at that picture in the following months, but after those first few days i hadn't been able to bring myself to watch any more footage from the attacks on that day.  Even now- just a few days ago one of my housemates had the TV on and was watching a program recounting the attacks.  I had to leave the room and go for a walk.  The screams were getting to me and i was starting to feel anxious.

I realize it's probably silly to feel that way, because of course i actually wasn't there.  Not when it all happened, anyway.  My thoughts are often with those who were there and actually had to live through that.  And of course, i won't forget.  I can't.  
I don't have that picture with me now, but i looked at it so many times i can still see it clearly in my mind.

Of course, i have to mention that today also marks six months since the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.  That day is still completely fresh in my mind as well, and the shock that i felt watching everything unfold from so far away, in a place where i had left a bit of myself years before.  A place where i had plane ticket scheduled to take me to the following month.  A place where many of my best friends live, but who all thankfully escaped unscathed, albeit quite shaken.  Pun far from intended.

This day will come and pass just like any other.  These things happen.  It's just a part of life, and life keeps going whether you're ready to keep going along with it or not.  Just have to pick up and carry on.

Sep 1, 2011

Battle of the bugs continues

So, last night (technically this morning) around 3am i went to go use the bathroom, only to find this nasty creature chilling on the wall right next to my door.

I screamed, but will spare myself the embarrassment of sharing the details of just how much of a baby i really am when it comes to roaches.  Especially huge ones like that.  And why, why is it always my room??  Although, housemate G did share a horrifying story about how, sometime last week, he put on his shoes one morning to walk to the bathroom, and suddenly felt something wriggling under his bare toes.  Pulled his foot out of his shoe to find a cockroach who had tried to make the shoe its home.  I would've been mortified, and while i have been checking my shoes frequently since the whole roach-falling-out-of-the-A/C incident, that story has made me check and double-check my shoes thoroughly each time before putting them on.

The mosquitoes too are still pretty relentless.  Just smacked one to death in my room.. If there's not a blood-smear, sometimes i leave their dead bodies there for a bit in hopes that other mosquitoes will take that as a warning to GTFO.  Seriously.  Because i'm sick of being itchy and sick of walking around looking like i've got some sort of weird disease, because my ghostly skin tends to over-react to the bites and they turn all sorts of shades of red and purple as they heal.

Ain't that just attractive?

Today was my day off, and since i had a bit of money saved in my wallet from the week i decided to go on a mini shopping-spree.. it had been a while since i'd been able to just do some fun shopping!  So i hopped on the train to Shinōkubo- the Korean town of Tokyo- and did a little shopping there.  Got a few little gifts, then against my better judgement i decided to walk to Harajuku instead of taking the train.  It was overcast all day (signs of the approaching typhoon) and not hot, but man it was humid as all hell!  Took me about 40 minutes (found a Japanese Communist Party Central Committee building along the way, and though i had stopped to get a picture of it, as soon as i had gotten my camera out a security guard had come out of the building and i was afraid he would start heckling me if i took a picture..), and by the time i got to the store i was wanting to go to i felt like i had just sat in a sauna with my clothes on, and my humidity-sensitive hair was in a frizzy disarray.  
Anyway, my store of destination was the Thank You Mart, where everything is 390yen.  This is a bit of a play on words, since the Japanese pronunciation of "thank you" turns into "sankyuu", thanks to the lack of 'th'-sound (amongst many other sounds).  Well, san means 3, and kyuu means 9.. add a 0 on the end- cuz 39yen couldn't buy you crap- and you get a Sankyuu (390yen/thank you) Mart!  I seriously love these stores, i go in there and i go crazy, because there's so much cool stuff and, oh what?  It's only 390yen?!?!  GIMME!  *random note- typhoon is creeping in now, it's pouring pretty good!*  I have to practice self-restraint and limit myself to getting 1 outfit per visit, and maybe an accessory, and tell myself that i can always get more next week after i get paid.  Came away this time with a pretty good outfit, methinks.  Two tank-tops (i thought they looked good layered), a pair of shorts, and a cool scarf since i'm a scarf addict and the 5 i have with me just aren't enough!
Btw- i know i've been in Japan too long because i just noticed the Engrish on the shirt when i posted this.  Yay Athretics!!
Don't mind the ugly, smelly bear-skin blanket it's on- i keep that folded up under my fitted sheet to give me some cushioning against the probably 20-year-old mattress that has been worn down to just springs.
Not really bear skin, but it looks and smells like it could possibly be.
And it's probably been over half of my life since i've owned a pair of shorts this short.  However, the style here is to wear tights or leggings with shorts, which is something i figured i could do since wearing just short shorts like that makes me feel naked and makes me realize how ghostly and translucent and stickly my legs really are.  The leggings i tried on at the Thank You Mart were faaaaaar too tight though, so these shorts will have to wait til i can find a good cute pair to wear with them.
Oh, and that scarf- it's huge!

Can totally hide myself with it!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...