Well this week was an instant replay of last week… but I’m sure I ramble enough to make half a story out of it; let’s see if I can make/keep it interesting ☺ Fuaito! (‘fight’ in Japanese; kinda like ‘ganbatte’ for ‘try hard’)
4:38 p.m. Bought new dish soap. It smells like oranges. I can’t wait to get home and wash my pots and pans and have my kitchen smell like oranges.
4:57 p.m. Washed my pots and pans. My kitchen smells like oranges. I stop to breath the aroma in and am reminded of oranges. Must remember to buy oranges…
Ok so that never happened. What, you thought I wash my dishes regularly? :) I haven’t since spring-cleaning last week; there is a pile in my sink. Apparently my predecessor piled her dishes in the bathtub, washing them like once a month… in the tub. Don’t worry; I clean if I know I’m having company over. Speaking of which, I tried out my new vacuum and what a world of difference. Sure it uses bags like the one I broke when I got here, but oh well, it cleaned my rug right away and actually had enough power to scare my kitty this time. (My other one was so weak you felt sorry for it, it’s garbage now)
Otaku was curious like she always is, but then she started freaking out from the vacuum! She would hop off one wall, hop straight to the other one just like you’d see on the Matrix and was all over the place; very impressive aerobics. This of course was amusing so I chased her for a little bit, giving her some exercise. She has got really fat already and I’m not sure what I can do about that… stop feeding her? She already broke into some of my garbage bags and I have found plastic in her stool… maybe she isn’t as bright as I once gave her credit for. So anyways after chasing her around the room for maybe 2 minutes she was exhausted and collapsed in the middle of the floor; party’s over. I guess I know how I can ‘play’ with her the next time she meows loudly for hours at 3 in the morning. She also makes for a great towel when you get out of the shower; big, furry and absorbent ;)
Haha I’m just kidding there, don’t call the humane society or child services or my parole officer. Well, school is super slow now, with no real classes that I know of until April 9th or so. Everyone is taking tests and the school year is winding down; graduation is this Saturday. Even though I have nothing to do I still have to go to school or use my holidays to go home. It’s lame, sure, but maybe it’s a sign. This is a perfect opportunity and a great kick in the butt to back pack all around Japan and taking ferries to the neighboring continents…
Just kidding. I decided to be lame and study. For those that don’t know, my mom is visiting in early April and I know my Japanese is laughable at best. I get some compliments, sure, but I don’t know if I’m even at the kindergarten level.
And so it begins. I’ve been so busy with the parties, travels, teaching, and relaxing during my downtime that 7 months later (an unbelievable length of time still) I am not much better than when I got here. I’m sure I’ve learnt through osmosis and other tidbits but that’s all they are, tidbits. I can get more than a couple chuckles now by throwing out situation-appropriate words (shouganai = can’t be helped/we’re boned) but as for communication it’s a bad scene.
But I’m getting a head of myself; instead of life in general let’s hear what happened! Um… gave a test Friday, made it during my downtime Monday before writing the blog… read a book all day Wednesday… corrected said test… debated the merits of digital signal processing versus the sin (x) / x analog transmitter through applications regarding capacitors as they exist in a vacuum with temperatures reaching 398 Kelvin and surrounded by a magnetic field of alternating strengths plus minus 44.23 Joules…
Oh here’s a treat. Thursday was such a beautiful day that when I went home for an hour to cook lunch or whatever during my flux of downtime, I opened all the windows in my house! Aired it out and even freaked my kitty out when I went home later that day and saw her eyeing me up through the screen. I went up to the screen and opened it, blowing her mind on the whole “there is an impassable wall there” reality in which she lived. It took her over a month to figure out my front door and I swear she camps out there on my shoes waiting for me to come home. One day I was loading my car with laundry to get cleaned, walked back to close the door and saw my kitty was stuck there, with her head wedged between the door and the frame. It was a pretty bad sight, her sitting there motionless, silent and weakly trying to back up into the house which did nothing to get her unstuck. I’m just glad she didn’t break her neck. The wind must have pushed the door closed on her or something; again another reason she might not be too bright…
Well the weekend came and the Komagane boys were up in Ina for Karaoke and food! Matt’s friends were visiting from England and we helped break them in to some Japanese experiences. One of them ordered some Sake, the waiter brought out a shot glass that was 4 times larger than a normal shot glass inside a box. He proceeded to fill the shot glass… until it overflowed. He kept pouring until the overflow filled the box the glass was sitting in. I thought it was strange but apparently it’s really common here, to drink your sake from the glass, and then box it was presented in.
Jake wasn’t feeling well (everyone is sick here! It’s unbelievable, must be that time of year) so he went home while the rest of us went to karaoke and nomihodai (all you can drink) for the next 3 hours. They had this weird machine in the corner where you could put 100 yen in and charge your cell phone for ½ hour. There was also a machine where you put money in and you could get a mini-Mario figurine among other machines where you can get anime action figures. I of course wanted the 1-up mushroom so I tried twice. Both times I got a mini “shy guy” from Super Mario 2 and subsequent Mario Kart games among others. I traded one for one of those question blocks with one of Matt’s friends who really wanted one. Matt’s other friend also tried and got a “shy guy” as well. It’s a scam! Of the 4 pulls we did, 3 were “shy guy”. It sucked because looking in the machine I could see at least two 1-up mushrooms and if I had more change I would have tried again.
Grumbling aside and after discovering it was too big to connect to my cell phone, we went in for some Karaoke! I was all excited for the all you can drink and started sipping on my first drink… Oh man, there was so much sugar in it, it felt like I was going blind from drinking it. Of course this slowed me down a lot and I ended up switching to other drinks, which were still heavily laced with sugar but at least tolerable. We all still had a good time though with the singing and the dancing on the table and sofas…
Oh and in case you didn’t know when you Karaoke in Asian countries you rent out private booths; it’s a pretty slick setup having your own room with a telephone to tell then to bring more drinks :) A funny story there was when I tried to order 4 (yottsu) more of those sugar-blinding drinks and accidentally ordered 8 (yattsu). I suppose I am hard to understand, especially when there is karaoke blasting loudly in the background. On the plus side, it was the first time I ordered something successfully on the phone! Hooray for small victories. Remon chuhai wo yottsu onegaishimasu!
We all crashed at Patricia’s for the night, it was warm enough I didn’t need to fully bundle up to be warm enough to sleep! Something so welcome and forgotten I am sure to point out; I am still sleeping with a blanket on my head at home so that when I wake up half my face isn’t numb. I meant to take the 11:13 train back home but got side-tracked by that nearby foreign shop that sells root beer (only shop I know of) and chicken hotdogs among other treats. The only train line that goes to my town that comes once an hour has a rather large lapse for lunch break and the next train wasn’t coming until 1:03.
So after realizing this 40 minutes later with my hands numb, I went to a nearby Vietnamese restaurant. The owner, Hiroko, doesn’t make rice vermicelli like I had at Lang’s back home, but she still makes some good dishes; not to mention she speaks fluent English. This is a popular place for the foreigners to hang out at, and you may remember me talking about it when we were there for Brett’s birthday, or her telling us how there was “only 13 bands and 2 DJs playing tonight, so it might not be that good”. Anyways Dean was there, a Canadian that hadn’t seen another foreigner for the first couple months he was here. It must be tough teaching privately… but to each their own; sometimes I wonder if it would be better for me to be forced to be with the locals more.
Which got us to talking about Japanese. He was studying there as he does every week apparently and the study-buddy proposition was formulated. I’m not sure yet if I’ll follow through as Ina is pretty far away to go just to study. At the very least, I got a look at his textbook and decided I wanted one too; before catching my train home I bought a copy at a nearby bookshop for a VERY reasonable price of 2500 yen. ($22?) Yea, remember buying those textbooks at university for $150 each? And then not using them? University really sucked sometimes…
So yes, I am excited to finally advance my education and strive to achieve the goals I laid out before trekking out to this foreign place; my biggest goal coming here was to at least learning enough Japanese to hold my own in a conversation. I was so excited and still oversaturated from house parties that I canceled out on a swanky party (drinking in suits/nice clothes; not to be confused with skanky) and then canceled yet another snowboarding trip for Sunday.
I soon discovered how long it has been since I really studied after I graduated. I vaguely recalled tips like the “study 50 mins, break for 10, rinse repeat” among other ways of grinding the intelligence points for hours. It might not be a bad thing to go to Ina where there would be fewer distractions as before I knew it I was playing with my kitty; or my 10-minute breaks would stretch to ½ hour breaks. Not to mention the lazy sub-conscience always telling me “you can do this when you’re eyes are bleeding from boredom at work for the next month, play video games now!” Hard to argue against that logic…
So Sunday comes by, I look like a hobo again while studying and I get a call from Jake. I guess everyone finished skiing early, as it was super windy and were in town for Ramen. (What the heck, people came to Tatsuno?!?) So I joined them, with mustard still visible on my Jeans from yesterday, BBQ sauce on my bunny hug and stubble all over my face. Ya I’m pretty classy that way but if I had more notice I would have changed my clothes at least, I didn’t want to keep them waiting too long, which is what they were doing when I showed up.
Lunch was good, a big bowl of ramen. John was reflecting on how when he went back to America the biggest thing he missed was those big bowls of ramen, as you couldn’t get them back home. I figured that was interesting, especially since I personally didn’t think they were specifically special; greasy noodles in a broth so packed with salt and carbs it could be its own meal. Oh and their ramen came with a half hard-boiled egg that you put in your bowl and let it finish cooking itself from the heat; similar to some dishes you can get in Korea.
The thing I know I will miss the most are those lovely little onigiris they have here. They are triangular shaped rice balls with seaweed around the outside and whatever you want for filling; I usually go for the tuna if I can, but discovered another one I really like today (Kanji/Chinese characters are hard ok? I don’t know what I buy ½ the time :P) I have actually made a meal of onigiris more than once at home; using tuna mixed with mayo and broth-flavored rice wrapped in those delicious rolls of Korean seaweed that we brought back in bulk… Oh man my moth is watering from the reminiscing, or maybe because it is an hour until lunch for me and I have a Tuna onigiri waiting for my enjoyment on my desk… Oh and another thing is those sushi train places, apparently in England it is 2 pounds ($10) for one little plate and here it is 105 yen ($1), but I digress…
After the food Jake suggested we take a trip to Tatsuno’s park! I have lived here 7 months and haven’t seen it yet so naturally I was eager. We got there and there were a number of things to enjoy: a kid’s playground, pond, museum, baseball diamond, and a great view, as it is fairly elevated above the valley. Jake introduced it as “ok this is the greatest thing that Tatsuno has to offer… so please don’t laugh” haha
We played on the structure for a bit and walked around the pond looking at the beautiful swans being hostile to everything around them, then hurried back to our cars as a breeze is all it takes to make you feel chilly. The rest of the day was half spent in the books… ok that’s a lie, I spent the rest of the day playing video games :( Until 1:30 in the morning actually; made it a little hard getting out of bed this morning.
So that was my uneventful week. I have the sneaking dread that these entries will become less interesting as I get more used to things here and study more; there is only so many things I can say about a house party or things of that nature… maybe part of the reason I canceled going to them the last couple weekends, or maybe the cold has something to do with it. Fresh memories lingering in my head of sleeping on a cold hard floor with 20 other people while my toes go numb and waking up occasionally to the sounds of people running to the bathroom to get sick; trying not to get stepped on. I need to buy a sleeping bag like everyone else already.
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world" -Anne Frank