(warning: particularly old content) I don't ask for it to make sense
So I got up to the end of Friday when dreads-boy distracted me, and then the excitement of trying to make the last-train transfer at Juso distracted me further, so I never got around last night to writing about that day. Heh. So here I am on Sunday afternoon, writing in delay again about the previous day. Ah well. Some weekends are like that. Or weeks, as the case may be.
I was getting up on Saturday at 6:30 am to go Zen meditating in Kyoto with Nishihara-san and his aunt and Parita. This plan had stemmed from when Jon and I had had dinner with Nishihara-san's family in August. At that point I had yet to go to Kyoto (and Zen meditation was certainly not in my repertoire of experience), and his crazy firecracker aunt Yumiko-san had insisted that we go together in the fall so that we could fold in a trip to see the 紅葉 (kouyou: "autumn colors"—the colors trees, particularly Japanese maples, turn in the fall). I might not have been so enthusiastic about this plan back in August if I'd known we'd be leaving Osaka at 8 am, but all's well that ends well. Jon had originally been slated to go along, but when we'd had to reschedule the trip a few weeks ago, we'd run up against the combo of Ai-chan's birthday and his leaving for a month, so it was Parita that rounded out the foreigner complement. Somehow I doubt that Nishihara-san minded, heh.
Parita and Nishihara-san both live at the Ibaraki-shi dorm (damn their eyes), so they came together to pick me up at 7:30 am in Nishihara-san's car (unsurprisingly ricey, given that he's a 28 year old Japanese guy... Parita thought it was cool, of course). We picked up Yumiko-san a bit after 8, and were parking in the mountains of Arashiyama on the western edge of Kyoto by 9:15.
Words can simply not do justice to the visuals of the day. Once I get pictures posted, that should help, but I wonder if perhaps you just had to be there, walking through a brilliant patchwork of trees contrasted against a grey sky, watching the mist tendrils wend their way down the river gorge. We were all struck speechless for much of the 20 minute walk from civilization to the temple. I spent a lot of time sighing in contentment, Nishihara-san kept muttering about what he had been missing as a city boy all his life. Perhaps denizens of the east coast would not be that impressed, but I'm a born-and-bred Evergreen State girl.
Senkouji was situated high on the ravine wall, with a view that passed over the gorge all the way to distant Kyoto; a creek tumbled down towards the river below, and the temple was entirely surrounded with flaming Japanese maples. For a place where I was being expected to mediate on a bare four or five hours sleep, feeling slightly "delicate," it wasn't half bad, I gotta say. The temple was open to the air, meaning it was pretty freaking cold, though. At least the wind was keeping the rain blowing away from us.
The first ten minute set of meditating, Nishihara-san and I agreed later, was HARD (Parita had done Zen before, and his aunt is a veritable master). I don't know how I managed to not move with my back held so very straight... it probably had something to do with the forbidding monk pacing before us carrying a big stick. I was rather afraid that if I drooped he'd beat me. I found out later that that is exactly what the stick is for, but not as a punishment: if you feel yourself getting shivery or otherwise falling out of things, you're supposed to motion him over, lean forward, and he'll give you a good whack across your back to clear your mind. Makes perfect sense. Anyway, I spent most of the first set trying very very hard to keep my eyes open by rapidly unfocusing them and refocusing them on a particular spray of brilliant leaves a yard or so in front of my face. It mostly worked. Mostly.
It was during the second, fifteen minute, stretch that I suddenly realized that I wasn't cold in the slightest despite the wind cutting in from the mountain. And that I didn't feel even slightly off from my excesses of the night before anymore. Perhaps that mediation spiel has something to it. The third stretch of twenty minutes seemed to fly by during a detailed inspection of a maple leaf... I could almost be convinced to go do it again.
We spent the rest of the morning and the early afternoon walking slowly along the river and visiting a nearby temple that Yumiko-san recommended. She was spot on with the recommendation—the temple (and its museum and gardens) were gorgeous but lacking the crowds that the "must see" sights in Kyoto are thronged with. Advantages of visiting with people in the area. During the course of the day we learned that Nishihara-san newly has a girlfriend—Yumiko-san said that her brother, his dad, would be relieved (hehe). All in all, it was a great day that was slightly spoiled when we ran into the traffic jam from hell on the way home. We'd gotten from Yumiko-san's house to Kyoto in just slightly over an hour that morning, but it took us close to three on the way back. She invited us in for coffee, but I'd promised to meet Andrew at 7:30 in Umeda and we were running awfully close to that time; I felt awful, ungrateful, and a dreadful annoyance to Nishihara-san and Parita, who'd been about to agree. Sigh. Nishihara-san gave me a bunch of shit about being such a busy girl (he knew I'd gone out drinking with Jon the night before), but as I pointed out, I'm leaving soon—I have to meet up with my friends while I can.
I made it into Umeda right on time, but Andrew had gotten there early and had been waiting on me. Whoops. We had a nice dinner (Indian food, natch, at the place near the Hankyuu station where the cooks love me so) and a good talk over drinks afterward, which brings me up to where I was yesterday, having had a few and deciding to accompany him on the way home to Kyoto just because I could. Heh. I wonder what he's going to do when I'm gone; his friend Sonam is pretty cool, but he's not the damn awesome American girl that I am, hehe.
I'm watching the World Music Awards as I write (the only sort of TV I can watch while trying to do something else is a sort that consists mostly of music). I missed the entire name of the man who just won Best French Male Artist (Patrick R-something?) and I wish I hadn't; French music isn't something that makes inroads on my ears, to what should be the music industry's everlasting shame.
Jim just called. We talked for half an hour before his calling card ran out... sigh.
Today was a generic Sunday—I slept late (nearly 2 pm when I dragged myself out of bed), and lazed about for a while before getting my act together to go and meet Hayato and Saeko in Kobe for dinner. Hayato's leaving the Kansai area next week to travel a bit before heading home to Seattle... and then there will be one little Jen left in town. I probably won't see Saeko again, but she told me to definitely let her know if I came back to Kansai in a year or two. It was fun to talk to her on the train home and pretend not to hear the drunk Japanese men sitting in front of us discussing my Japanese, heh. She said that I should make a pin that says "I'm American, from Seattle, WA. I have been studying Japanese for five years, at college. I have been in Japan this time for five months" in Japanese and English. It's not a bad idea... either that or tattoo it on my forehead. I also need a digital counter that indicates how many times each day someone has asked me those questions.
Crap. I was intending to work on email to people today, but apparently I forgot to transfer the files from Kasumi to Sayuri on Friday. Damnit. I guess it'll be a somewhat early tonight... watch some Sex in the City (Brandon and Kate would perhaps be happy that I'm renting it while other people have stolen my Band of Brothers away—and of course it makes perfect sense that I'm watching it in lieu of a war series) and get to sleep on a work night before 1? Unbelievable.
Having somewhat inexplicably decided to accompany Andrew on his way home to Kyoto tonight rather than terminate our conversation at 10:45 pm (okay, I'll admit it's the sort of "inexplicable" that has a causal relation to two beers and a couple cocktails), I find myself on the last local train back to Osaka wondering if it was this train or the previous one that I was able to get home on last month. I suppose we'll see. In the meantime, I can write. Hah. It's all according to plan, you understand.
I saw Jon and Iwahara-san for what was quite possibly the last time in my life yesterday. Iwahara-san I bid goodbye to at work. It was an extremely emotionally constipated affair that would have been much more satisfactory if it had taken place not at work. It's a little hard to get away with throwing your arms around someone at work to say goodbye in this country, even when you really want to. He said he'd try to come back from Oita (aka BFE) before I leave, but the chances of that happening are not in our favor. I kicked myself but good that Jon and I didn't invite him out with us... I'm not really even sure why we didn't; by the time it occurred to me to do it he was already partway home and Jon had seemed strangely reticent about the idea as a whole anyway (heaven only knows why).
As is likely obvious, Jon and I went out after work. Ai-chan wasn't to meet us until around 10 pm, so we decided to get a beer first. Or four. At four different bars. Given that we also drank at dinner, I far surpassed previous experiences in drinking at multiple locations (I think the previous record was three). It was a veritable Anglophile tour: we started at an Irish pub, moved to an English pub, continued to an Australian bar, and ended up at a general gaijin-y place.
We probably would have stayed at The Pig & Whistle (the English bar), except that that horror of Japanese culture was there, the extremely drunk Japanese person wanting to practice their English. The fact that it was a nasty old man who kept on talking at Jon while staring at me really didn't help. Heh. Jon suggested that we make business cards that read "English lessons: 30 minutes, 5000¥," which is a tempting idea.
Also, we'd run into a pair of girls from Sumitomo at P&W, who we'd sent off in the direction of Captain Kangaroo (the Australian place) earlier, so we figured we could go catch up with them and chat for a while. That was fun. They both seemed to adore me (Japanese girls often do... I think they're astounded by the fact that actual thoughts stream out of my mouth), and we kept them company at Capt. K and Canopy until Ai-chan called to say she was on her way. They incidentally found it as morbidly humorous as I did that Ai-chan was calling my phone to talk to her boyfriend.
After meeting up with Ai-chan, the three of us headed to... The Outback. Die. Cheese fries, grilled shrimp, filet mignon, baked potatoes, beer, and a brownie dessert were consumed by all three, and I was an EXTREMELY happy girl. Even if I wasn't paying attention to how I was cutting my meat at one point and managed to almost choke myself (enough to bruise my larynx a bit—it hurt like the devil). It was a rather odd mix of Japanese and English that was spoken—although Jon and I outnumbered Ai-chan, we probably spoke in Japanese twice as much as we did in English. She didn't seem in a hurry to switch us to English, so we just kept with the flow, I suppose.
Things were going great until Ai-chan looked at her watch and squeaked. It was 12:45 (my last train was at 12:25, and their last one was at 12:31). Oops. Ai-chan's apartment isn't so far from downtown that it was a killer for them to cab it, but lordy, I was in some sort of trouble. I was actually personally fine with it; I had a strange (no doubt alcohol-fueled) desire to walk all the way home anyway. It'd take me about three hours, I reckoned, and my CD player should last me about that long. It wasn't raining, so I didn't see a problem with this plan. They did. Heh. So I ended up being bundled on a late-night bus that'd get me at least somewhat close to Toyonaka, at which point I promised them that I'd get a cab. I was planning on walking from there, in truth, although plans for that got a little derailed.
I spent the half hour on the bus in dreadful fear that I'd fall asleep and wake up in another prefecture (I HAD had something like seven beers that night, which is not conducive to staying awake in a quiet environment). Made it to Momodaiyama (Momoyamadai? I forget) without incident, got off the bus, and went "booooooo!" as it immediately started to rain. Hard. I had hardly started walking when a cab pulled up to me and asked me how far I was going (I don't think I was walking that unsteadily, but I hadn't pulled out my umbrella yet, so maybe that was what started the pity). I told him Toyonaka, with a sad face. He insisted that I couldn't walk that far in this rain, and asked me how much money I had. I don't know exactly why I did it, but despite the 5000¥ and 1000¥ bills in my wallet, I told him I only had 1000¥ and the change in my pocket (fare to Toyonaka from there should have been over 2000¥). He didn't even seem to consider it—just looked once outside at the rain, back at my face, and then said "get in." Whoohoo! I had a good time talking to him on the way home; I nearly always do with Japanese taxi drivers. Perhaps they're just so surprised that the white girl talks to them in Japanese that they can't help but get involved in the conversation, I don't know.
I got dropped off in front of my dorm at about 1:30 am and went directly to sleep. I had to get up at 6:30 am this morning and Jason wasn't even involved, sigh. So that was last night.
A cute Japanese boy with dreads is conked out on my shoulder. I thought briefly about shoving him off, but the other places he could put his head all have metal edges or somesuch, and really, it's no skin off my nose to offer my shoulder as a pillow. Us last-train peeps gotta stick together.
One thing that will definitely be good about getting home is that I will not be drinking nearly as much. And then perhaps my redistribustion of weight (I haven't gained or lost weight this time around, but I'm pretty damn sure that some of it has moved around) can be slowly reversed.
Some more bits got filled in above the recap in yesterday's post. Just alertin'.
The morning is not boding well. This is the last day I'll see Jon before I go (not like I'll see him after), at this very moment families that I adore are sitting down to eat delicious food in the Pacific Northwest and I'm not there, and the most interesting thought I've had all morning was noting that I know more lyrics to old-school hiphop songs than any other genre. It's as if my ability to absorb words from music stopped at about age 13.
Experimenting with slight differences in how this looks. I forgot how much I hate the <P> tag.
Okay, there were a few notes on the tail end of 11/26, so be aware of that before being subjected to the BOOK. I gotta run off to meetings, I'll double-check links when I get back. And I stole pictures from Jason again.
I'm opting to fill in updates before the BOOK, so it's way up here that I'll offer up the reason that the Japanese get all batty about "fall colors."
I actually SAW the wailing motherfucker in my neighborhood on my way home tonight (yes, I was walking home that late). And it's not remotely religiously related. What the asshole is caterwauling over and over is "焼〜〜〜き〜〜〜芋〜〜〜〜 (yaaaaaaaakiimoooooooo)"—he's a goddamn travelling roasted 芋 (imo) cook, haunting my neighborhood hoping that someone is dying for 芋 at 11 pm. Maybe on the day that I actually figure out what the hell 芋 is (every dictionary I've looked the word up in has it as something different, as does every person I've ever asked... I can't pin down the taste myself), I'll stop him from his wailing for a bit to buy some, to the sure gratitude of all neighbors within several blocks.
On this miserable excuse for a Thanksgiving, I am thankful for two things: that dinner was not wretched, and that Stefan was around to at least speak to in English to over it. Basically, everything else about today has sucked on some level. All day I've been thinking about what I'd be doing and eating if this were the US, and it's just going to be worse tomorrow, as dinnertime at home rolls around right about the time I get into work.
I claim to everyone here that's asked that it's the food I'm missing. But I'd be lying if I tried to say that the reason I've been so mopey all day wasn't because this is the first Thanksgiving since 1999 that I won't be down in Winlock with Jim's family. Sigh. We'll overlook for the moment what a goddamn fantastic cook his mother is. That has NOTHING to do with it. Or maybe only a smidgen (had to lighten that up somehow).
I've mentioned it before, ad nauseum, but I just can't get over the fact that when I watch the Spanish conversation shows on TV here, I understand more of the Spanish than I do the Japanese (head in hands). Ridiculous.
I can't believe that I don't have a videotape at this moment. There are three utter nerds on TV. They just finished the segment reviewing the top three "idol" DVDs that debuted this week (complete with bust-size reports), and are now flying into an interview with a model shop owner about a new Transformer-type toy that's out recently. One of them even has a bowl cut.
I'm going to be up late tonight. I hadn't quite thought through the consequences of putting my sheets into the wash around 11:15 pm. Or all of my pants.
So where was I. Ah yes. On the shinkansen on the way up/over to Tokyo. I read most of the way; a Time magazine sent to me by my parents and The Stranger on Sayuri kept me going until the last twenty minutes... which I spent wondering if Brian was going to be late to meet me, hah. But I had no sooner exited the train, come up the escalator from the platform, and rounded the corner towards the gates when I saw a familiarly tall figure waiting directly outside.
I'll admit that up until this point I was still harboring some serious doubts about this whole endeavor. I mean, we WERE talking Brian the Ex, he of the unceremonious IM dumping from Japan four-odd years ago, and all of the emotional pain and agony surrounding that era. Sure, our interactions in the years since had been friendly and fun, but they'd also been short and infrequent. And I was planning on spending a weekend with him. Heh?
But all fears were dispelled within a stop or two from the shinkansen station. There was a damn good reason that I had dated him in the first place, oh those many years ago: he's a smart, funny, geeky guy who I adore being around. Oh yeah (the lightbulb blinks in). It was easy to slip back into talking to him... perhaps too easy. He was probably sitting there wondering when I would just SHUT UP already. I can't help it; I feel so cut off from communication here that when I find people I can talk easily to (ESPECIALLY friends from home), it's like the floodgates to the Nile simply burst.
We headed straight from the shinkansen station to Harajuku to meet up with Brian's friend Aaron at a pub—all I had was my backpack, and I was starving. Aaron works for MS in Japan; he and Brian met (somehow) four years ago when Brian was a student at Waseda. Let's look at the checklist, shall we? Hardcore gamer/computer dork with a raunchy sense of humor? You know I loved him in the first two minutes I talked to him. I was about ready to pledge eternal friendship to him by the end of the night, although the two (three? I forget) 生 beers (generic draft, it was probably Asahi, but I can't tell my Japanese pisswater from my other Japanese pisswater very well) over dinner and the two and a half pints of Guinness at the pub afterwards may have had something to do with that.
We decided to head over to a all-you-could-eat しゃぶしゃぶ place for dinner rather than hang out in the pub; I hadn't eaten since lunch and thought food in my tummy pre-beer might be the better part of valor. Shabu shabu is a style of Japanese cooking where they bring you a plate of raw meat and veggies, plunk a pot of boiling water in front of you, and let you cook whatever you want how you want... at four pieces of cabbage consumed in addition to my beef, I was the veritable vegetarian of the table. I LOVE eating with Americans.
Within a few minutes, I was feeling some serious jealousy that Brian has a friend like Aaron to joke around with. Not to rain on Andrew and Jon's parades, but first, they're just not geeks near to my level (Andrew comes somewhat close in his own way), and second, they're not American. I don't know exactly what it is about my two Brits that's vaguely unsatisfactory—no, not really "unsatisfactory," but just "different"—as compared to a pair of American boys, but whatever it is, I have no doubt that I wouldn't notice it if I were at home surrounded by Americans. It's only in the complete lack of subtle American-ness that time spent with people like Brian and Aaron becomes so very noticeably precious.
I thought it was... Cute? Touching? Amusing? Interesting? Perhaps a bit of all those things, that when I handed my backpack to Brian to stuff in the corner of the booth, he immediately examined my carabiner with an expression of dismay. The RAM stick that was once attached to a particular brassish clip broke away some years ago, but a bell and thumb clamp have jangled lightly on that clip, hooked to my bag, for over four years. "It's gone!" he said, with an unidentifiable and vague mixture of disappointment, interest, and surprise. I assured him that it was clipped to my mirror at my dorm; I'd only removed it this summer because it clanked too loudly against my water bottle, heh. I doubt he actually cared all that much, but he still checked... and I still had considered going back in to grab it after locking my door when I had left that morning (l actually did reclip it to my bag this morning).
As I referred to above, we headed to a pub (the HUB, meaning that I should really go to the one in Osaka to complete the Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka trinity at least, if I can't get to all forty-odd across the country as Jon has) after dinner to hang out over some Guinness. Well, Aaron and I drank Guinness while Brian complained about being lapped by a girl, hehe (he did have one... mostly). It was singularly odd to be drinking around Brian, with the specter of my old non-drinking self reflected in his glasses. It's probably a good thing that we had to high-tail it out to catch our train when we did, because I was getting dangerously close to a desire to, I don't know, show off? to him that that wasn't who I was anymore. As is, I was merely and pleasantly light-headed when we bid goodnight to Aaron and packed ourselves onto the train.
And when I say "packed," I mean PACKED. I've been in similar crushes during the evening rush hour in Osaka, but this was nearly midnight and that train was stuffed to the fucking gills. I've always maintained that I'd hate living in Tokyo because of the population density; having spent the weekend in Tokyo (and environs), I will scale back from saying that I'd "hate" to live there, but DAMN am I glad I don't have to put up with that press on a daily basis.
Brian's dorm is about as not my dorm as you can get. It's basically an apartment building that Sony runs—the mystery of how it was okay for me to stay with him in his place was solved when I realized that A) the security guard/watchdog dude isn't there past a certain time of night and B) they don't have a live-in caretaker family like the Masudas right off the entrance. I envy him muchly his privacy, kitchen, private bathroom and shower; I'm not entirely certain that the Masuda's kindness, quite decent cooks, and not having to pay my actual electricity fees is really worth having reverted to living in something more restrictive than my college dorm.
We stayed up for quite a while talking in his apartment, watching videos and doing that getting reacquainted thing that happens when you've not closely interacted with a formerly close friend for a long time. Relearning to be comfortable around each other, is perhaps the way to put it. But we finally had to admit defeat and turn in, because the next day we were getting up ASS EARLY. Of course, Jason was involved in this part.
Now don't get me wrong, I understand Jason's reasoning for wanting to get an early start on our sightseeing trip on Saturday. It was over a two-hour drive out to Nikko, which combined with the winter-short days meant that early was the best way to make sure that we had light to see what we wanted to see. And it's not like it was quite as bad as the 6:30 am Kyoto insanity when he and crew visited me in Osaka a few weeks ago... but 7:30 am on a Saturday is still 7:fucking:30 am on a goddamn Saturday. I'm extremely glad that my chances of ever going sightseeing with Jason again, in my life, are close to nil.
Brian and I dragged our asses out of bed to be greeted by a brilliantly clear and sunny day. I almost regretted choosing to visit Nikko instead of Hakone (where I might have gotten a nice view of Mt. Fuji), but I hadn't really checked the weather report when I'd half-assedly done what might be somewhat referred to as "planning" for this trip, and Hakone had sounded as if it would be boring if the weather didn't cooperate, while Nikko seemed to have more Stuff To See. Anyway, it took us over half an hour, maybe even nearly an hour, to get to the station where we were meeting Jason et. al, which was generally enough time to wake up given the sunshine blasting in the windows. Generally.
Jason showed up a bit late, and Mark caught up with us a tad later as we grabbed road snacks at the 駅コンビニ. It was great to see Mark—I heard a "JEEENNNN!" from behind me and turned right into a gigantic hug from one of my favorite TJ students. Mark may not be someone that I could be close friends with, but he's enormously entertaining (albeit in an incredibly dirty way most of the time, but we already knew I find that sort of shit hilarious) and I quite like hanging out with him over just about anyone else from class.
Tatsuya and Lennard were waiting in the parking lot below, in Tatsuya's car. That's right, his CAR. (shaking head) In the been-in-Japan-too-long category, I've gotten to the point where people having cars is a matter of extreme surprise... things are sad. But I lie when I say it was a car, it was actually a van, minature-style, with seating for all six of us. It beat the hell out of being on the train for the whole way out into the boonies, let me tell you. The drive out was passed with me and Mark catching up, the boys talking cars, and generally having a good time... once again, I really envied them all for their network of friends. Not that Brian sees the other guys that much, but he's got his own system going on. Jason and Lennard work together, and get together with Tatsuya on a regular basis to hang out, and Mark's close enough so that he can freely do the same when he gets a mind to... All I'm saying is that by this time, if Erin hadn't introduced me to Andrew, I would have gone stark raving insane. And I'm not necessarily all that tiptop mentally even so.
Having learned last time that Lennard annoys the fuck out of me, I generally avoided talking to him a whole lot or paying attention to what he said. As a result, I didn't get pissed off at him more than once or twice, and even then it was only mildly. And they say I can't learn my lessons. Later that night, Brian said he didn't get why I dislike the L-man so much; while I have to admit that he was on much better behavior on Saturday than he'd been a few weeks ago, he still just gives me a bad juju vibe of the extremely disrespectful to women type. The irony of a misogynist such as I being bothered by this is not entirely lost on me.
I have enough pictures from Saturday that find their way into being mentioned that I think I'll do this somewhat with the mad linking, photo-essay style. Just for Saturday, though.
The Toshogu shrine at Nikko was pretty, and the few hours we spent there were quite worth the drive. But there's not a whole lot you can say about sightseeing (other than it was pretty damn cool to see the original hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, see-no-evil monkey carvings). Look at the pictures. It was a gorgeous place that smelled wonderfully of trees, and I loved it.
After we took off from the shrine, we headed off for an extended drive out to another part of the national park that comprises Nikko. On such a beautiful day, I would have been more than pleased enough to simply continue switchbacking up the mountain for hours, idly paying attention to which cars the boys ooh'ed at and admiring the scenery off into the valleys below. When we made it up to just the other side of the ridge from the waterfall we were heading towards, we pulled off a rest stop for no real reason other than to take pictures from the mountain. That was when we realized it was snowing, heh. All day I'd been catching flak for claiming I wasn't cold (it was windy at Toshogu, but really not that bad), but okay, even I'll admit that it was damn cold up on the mountaintop. The boys spent some time lobbing rocks down the mountainside, which was pretty funny to watch. I felt sorry for Brian, though—a bit on in the car, we saw what we thought was streaked chocolate on his hand, but turned out to be blood. We figure one of the rocks he was hurling sliced his finger a bit.
Continuing around the ridge, we made it to Kegontaki, supposedly one of the biggie waterfalls to see in Japan. It was pretty, but I'm not entirely certain it was worth the ticket price to head down their crazy borehole elevator and see it from below. And FUCKLORD was it cold down there. The mountain air rushing down the ravine, combined with spray from the waterfall... brrrrrr. Of course, we didn't have it all that bad off—we were all wearing jackets to some degree, and long pants. The Japanese though... Japanese women are by and large dumb. Morons. Including going to a place with temperatures hovering in the lower 40s, wearing itty bitty short skirts and no pantyhose. I wasn't sure whether to pity them or be disgusted. One girl, in particular, caught my eye (well, she caught the boys' eyes as well, but not for the same reason). She was tottering around in some ridiculous boots and a skirt not even covering her thighs, with goosebumps and shivers you could see several feet away... being forced to stand and take several pictures in front of the waterfall with her boyfriend as the wind iced up her legs and blued her fingers. Now, I'm not saying that she wasn't an idjit for wearing that, and for not sticking up to her prick of a boyfriend, but on the other end, what kind of guy makes his girl stand out in weather like that, wearing what she was, just so he can have a couple pictures to take home? A Japanese guy, that's who. And people wonder why I basically refuse to date Japanese men.
When we came up from the waterfall basin, though, was when things got interesting. We'd been laughing at a security-guard type in a ridiculous polyester blue uniform, when either Lennard or Jason noticed that more were showing up (I think there ended up being at least five of them running around). And they even had guns! BB guns, to be sure, but we were like... Do they think terrorists are going to storm the waterfall? And how likely was it that they thought that we were the terrorists who are going to do the storming?
But someone pointed out that they were more likely there to fight off the raging monkey hordes. So when we noticed them heading for the cliff edge, there was nothing to do but follow. I missed out on monkeys during the Minou debacle in September, I was damn well going to see the raging monkey hordes. So okay, it was more like a single monkey, hanging out, doing his monkey thing. Chillin'. You know. He was a raging horde of one. The tourists (yours truly included) taking its picture freaked it out a bit, and it decided it'd chill somewhere else. Unfortunately, it headed straight for one of the waterfall observation decks, incurring the wrath of the Polyester Men. And wrath it was. Only one guy was shooting, and really only to scare the poor animal off, but given that, he was going to town. So what occurred to several of us (including a Japanese couple with cameras in their 携帯 simultaneously? We HAD to get a picture of this old, angry looking Japanese man taking out his life frustrations with a semiautomatic BB gun. It was a moral imperative. Of course, who was it that was a little too obvious about doing so? (embarrassed look) Guilty (in my defense, if I'd been a half-second slower, it would have just been someone else that started it). He saw my camera come up out of the corner of his eye and started yelling. And swinging his gun around towards the tourists. He was spouting, loudly, some bullshit about it being a crime to take his picture (in our collected opinions later, we think he was just a dick who didn't want his picture taken), and getting as really angry as his countenance had simply appeared to be earlier. That was a little bit tense. And you know, regardless of whether we were right or wrong to dive for our cameras, it was pretty seriously not cool for him to be waving a semiauto BB gun in our direction. Anyway, he went back to shooting at the monkeys, and we kind of shooed ourselves out of there. Jason and Brian reported that as they were passing him on the way back up to the lot, he stopped shooting long enough to coo "oh look, babies! Aren't they cute?" to some Japanese nearby... I wonder if the couple that had been snapping his picture with their keitai were included in that heartwarming interval. Before he started shooting again. Booooo.
The sun was starting to get pretty low, so we commenced the trek back towards the city and dinner. Not, however, without stopping at a certain souvenir place about halfway out of the park. The shop was in the middle of nowhere, on a high mountain moor with all the scrub to show for it (the moor itself is apparently famous for some reason, I forget why... sunset over the edging mountains was pretty, but other than that... well, a moor is just a big flat plain with some swampy characteristics. It was just sort of there). We were not there for the moor, however. We were there for the penis chocolates. They had tiny little boob ones, and minature penises, but it was the slightly more to scale ones that captured our attention so. Mark, particularly, couldn't seem to get enough. I love Mark, heh.
It took us quite a while, perhaps an hour, to make it into the city-town-place-with-restaurants-thing where we were planning on stuffing our faces with gyoza for dinner. And tasty tasty it was, too, even if the gyoza man statue out in front of the place we chose was a bit scary. Anyway, 66 gyoza disappeared down 6 throats in approximately 6 minutes flat, those of us who'd opted for a beer with dinner finished them up, and we went straight over to get humbao. Or however you spell that. The entire area, you see, was all Chinese food (I think there must have been at least five gyoza places alone), and the irresistable bready meaty odor of one place's by-the-door steamers was too much to resist. We ate them in the car and promptly fell asleep. Heh. It was dark out, give us a break! We pulled these strange little shifts, where two of us would be awake at once, then conk out as another person woke up. The system seemed to work pretty well, but I think we all felt a little bad for Tatsuya the Taxi Driver. Brian offered to drive at one point... I, on the other hand, permanently learned my lesson about trying other-side driving when I was 18 in Australia. Never again, thank you, I value side mirrors staying attached to the car too much. Anyway, Tatsuya refused the offer, and we all went back to sleeping. Brian finally gave up trying to prop his head up, and ended up on my shoulder for quite a while. Jason got a good snicker out of that.
Our chauffeur ferried us all to the station where we'd met up that morning, and attempted to make a getaway without letting us reimburse him for gas. Or tolls. Or lunch, which he'd sneaked his way into paying for. Tatsuya is one of those fatally nice guys who you have to keep an eye on about things like that. I hugged Mark goodbye, as he was heading off on another line, and Brian, Lennard, Jason, and I filed onto the JR towards Yokohama and home.
And may I say, as an aside, after a full weekend of shelling out for JR, their fares are fucking highway robbery! It's all about the private lines.
Distracted in conversation, Brian and I had to pull a sudden-death goodbye when we totally unexpectedly arrived at our station. Jason gave me a hug to see me off, which made me snigger not a little bit as Brian and I made our way off the platform. The boy has NEVER, NEVER hugged me before, but that night he suddenly does? Coincidentally after witnessing Mark do it twice? Maybe I should threaten to tell his girlfriend (laughing).
Brian and I stayed up waayyyyyy too late, watching Ali G. I'd found it mildly hilarious that Brian had randomly turned out to have episodes of his show, not two weeks after Jon was telling me about it, but the coincidence's humor was far outstripped by the show itself. To those unaware of Ali G, I'm coming home with six episodes on my harddrive, so soon... soon. I don't feel like explaining it at the moment... Trust me, we're talking some FUNNY shit.
Because we stayed up waayyyyy too late, we slept in waayyyyy late. Now, this was basically fine, seeing as I'd intentionally not scheduled anything more than a vague desire to go to Akihabara (or Aki, as Brian kept on referring to it, and as it's now imprinted in my mind), but it still felt a little odd to be staying at someone's place while on vacation and sleeping past noon. We would have slept longer, except that Brian's phone started ringing around, oh, perhaps 1 pm. His half of the conversation consisted of more Japanese than I'd heard him utter since I'd arrived (more on that later), and I'll admit that I shamelessly eavesdropped. Now, he'd told me that he had a concert to go to on Monday night... when two primary components of even half of a conversation are "NO WAY" and "I thought it was tomorrow!" it's not that hard to guess what had happened, heh. Made all the weirder because we were supposed to be going to a wedding reception for a friend of his that night as well.
Brian got a bit annoyed at himself for getting dates and times crossed, but it wasn't a big deal. When we looked at the timing of things, the concert and the reception dovetailed with just the right amount of time to commute between the two, and the only question was what I was going to do while he was with his friend (amusingly, another ex-girlfriend, hehe) at the concert. Wanting to delay the decision, I voted for heading out to Aki, eating, getting the shopping done we were wanting to do, and then figuring things out from there. The only annoying thing about my brilliant plan is that it necessarily involved me either wearing a skirt all day (not happening), or changing out of my cords at some point during the day, which didn't seem like it'd be all that much of a hassle (it wasn't).
We met up with Aaron in Aki, where I confirmed that I love the guy. I'm easy with the geeks, what can I say. Tasty delicous ramen was eaten (I'd informed Brian that if he thought that he, of the inability to go more than one conversation without mentioning ramen at least once, was getting away without going to eat it with me while I was there, he had another thing coming), Brian snagged a DVD burner, Aaron picked up a ridiculously cheap XBox, and I purchased a totally sweet harddrive. What makes my harddrive so sweet, you may wonder... I dunno, I just find the idea of a 160 GB external (USB 2) HD kind of spiffy. I'd decided to go for an external one so that it could double as a way to get some of the stuff on Kasumi home easier than scp'ing the lot, and the idea of having a media drive that I can move between computers at work and home without having to open up boxen appeals to me. The fact that it looks pretty phatty is just icing on the cake.
Brian deposited me in Harajuku around 5:30, and swept off to head off to meet up with his friend, promising to call when he got back to the area around 9. I took custody of his DVD burner so that he wouldn't have to lug it to the concert, so it was a rather laden Jen that spent the next hour and fifteen minutes haunting the streets playing windowshopping sightseeing tourist. It was somewhat bizarre to be roaming Tokyo, recognizing bits and pieces of Harajuku from various TV shows and anime. I think that was when it finally hit that I was actually there, in the city I'd actively avoided (visiting, learning about, appreciating) for so long.
My resistance to Tokyo is due, I think, to two factors: one, Tokyo is where Brian was when he dumped me, and I think I have some weird latent resentment against the location. Two, the worship which foreigners tend to bestow upon the place has annoyed the hell out of me since even before I started studying Japanese. I mean, sure, it's the biggest city in the country, but I'm not sure that most people I know really like it "most" for any other reason than because everyone else likes it "most." I will give that sprawling metropolis props for being less smoky than Osaka, at least. I was a little bemused by the Smoker's Style storefront until Brian explained that it was one of several places set aside for people to smoke so that they wouldn't do it out on the streets. We need something like that in Kansai... I get mighty tired of the wreathing tendrils lingering in the air along all the major streets in this town.
After the aforementioned hour or so of wandering around, though, I started scouting for a place to camp out for the remainder of the time I had left to wait. I actually briefly considered opting for the pub where we'd met Aaron the night before, heh (I was walking by it at the moment, I couldn't help it!), but I figured that it might not be polite of me to head to a stranger's wedding reception with a beer or two already downed. Not to mention that the idea of changing clothes in a bar bathroom was less than attractive. So I whiled away about two hours in a Doutor coffeeshop, writing postcards and reading The Stranger. Not a glamorous way to spend some spare time in Tokyo, perhaps, but it suited me just fine. Brian popped back up right on time, I changed (he'd actually worn a sportcoaty thing and button-up shirt all day, heh), and we headed off to get me to meet more people I'll never see again. I wasn't exactly not looking forward to the reception, but what I'd picked up from Brian indicated that while non-work friend Aaron might be quite my type of guy, Brian's work friends might not fit my bill quite so much.
Everyone at the party was nice (with a big exception that I'll come to later), but hanging over the entire two or three hours were two Issues. Well, beyond the fact that I didn't know a single person there other than Brian. Heh. The first Issue was (is) that Brian has A Thing about speaking Japanese. It's unwarranted, but he's not the only one to have irrational Issues, and this particular one keeps me, too, from speaking Japanese around people whose opinions I'm sensitive to on occasion, so I pretty much understand. The problem is that his Thing was infecting my consciousness all night. It was like it was leaking out of his ears, dribbling down to his chin, and being spattered about every time he shook his head. I'm usually alternately shy and eager to please when I'm confronted with speaking Japanese around him, but that night, I just felt weirdly ashamed every time I slipped into the language. Even when he was across the room and couldn't possibly have heard and disapproved of me (I did mention that he's not the only irrational one). So given that I was feeling extra uncomfortable about speaking in Japanese at all, that left the foreigners to talk to. Which amounted to four possibilities outside Brian, and leads into Issue Numero Dos.
Brian had mentioned that Lisa, a friend of a friend, a girl from Mercer Island, was likely to be there that night. I was interested in meeting her, as he'd said that she really reminded him of me. After talking to her for a bit that night, I can see a bit where he's coming from... she does bear some similarity to who I was when I was 20 (I maintain that I'm quite a bit smarter, and came off as such even back then, though). On the other hand, it's kind of hard to be able to judge a person fairly when from the instant they meet you, they're blaring I Hate Your Guts signals. It was immediately recognizable for what it was: the snippy "I hate you but I'm going to pretend I don't, badly, so that casual observers will think I'm being polite, even interested in you, but you and I, sister, know what's up" drill that women of a certain personality have perfected to an art (let's ignore why I know this one so well).
I was a bit blindsided. I'd been looking forward to meeting this girl, and certainly hadn't expected to be getting vibe bombs careening towards me. We carried the act for a while, longer than I think she had expected to (we do have similar interests, and it turned out she was in the same class as Zach, who would be the only person I've ever known who went to Mercer Island HS), but I was pretty damn relieved when something, I forget what, broke us apart, and Brian whisked me off to pick my brain about her. That conversation elucidated some possible reasons for her not liking me, mostly having to do with someone or another connecting friend-from-college-up-for-the-weekend Jen with ex-girlfriend Jen (suffice to say that the parallels to Monika are amazing). I still think she was full of shit. I have very little, okay, no respect for people who determine that they hate someone before they even meet that person. Not to mention that there's a distinct bias when that person is ME.
And given that she was rather obviously newly dating the intervening friend between her and Brian, Matt, the whole thing was in dreadfully bad taste. I didn't like Matt that much, but I still hope he wasn't empathetic enough to pick up on the female undercurrents. I certainly wish in alternate minutes that I hadn't mentioned anything to Brian; he was bothered enough as it was (during even minutes, I remember that I like and value sharing my thoughts with him, even if he disagrees or dislikes them).
Brian and I shared a train home with Andrew, a Canadian of Chinese descent who I gave an interior single thumbs-up to. A little too smoothly playerish to up the second thumb, but it certainly wasn't down (you can't give a thumbs down to an Ultimate player). We made tentative plans to get breakfast with him in the morning, although that predictably fell through when we stayed up waaayyyyyy late again. I'd somewhat forgotten, in the past several months, that I'm not the only night owl in the world (just perhaps the only one in the Kansai region, hah).
It was a good feeling to be around such a complementary personality all weekend, god. Made me REALLY start looking forward to going home. I may bitch constantly, but in truth I'd accepted being the only me around over the last five months; being around Brian, though, reminded me what I'm going home to—friends that match me. The idea of walking back into work, or Seth and Jason's, in a few weeks nearly undo me now, rather than being these hazy, unreal events on a far distant horizon.
We slept late again on Monday—I had no set time I wanted to get back to Osaka, and in truth in no way wanted to do so. I woke up that morning, watched Brian sleep for a while, and thought that I would have killed to stay up there rather than come back to the loneliness that is Kansai. There may be plenty of reasons I like my area better, but the lack of friend-friends is not one of them. And at that moment, nothing seemed more important.
I'd wanted to spend the day wandering around the city, with no particular agenda other than seeing "stuff" and continuing to talk Brian's ears off. And that's basically what we opted for, heading to the island of Odaiba to meander through shopping areas, walk the boardwalk in the grey afternoon light, and eat some ramen. It was a good, simple day that carried with it a weird duality—I was enjoying my day with Brian, and wouldn't have traded it, but was also missing Jim dreadfully. How many last days of the weekend have I spent rambling around Seattle in a similar way with him in the last three years? Too many to count.
I procrastinated on leaving Tokyo until the last possible minute (okay, not LAST, but I wanted to have a safety net of one train). Making myself pack my things together and leave was perhaps the hardest thing I've done in months... Brian didn't seem in a hurry for me to get out either, which was appreciated, although it didn't help with me getting my ass moving. Who knows how he ACTUALLY felt about being invaded for three full days, but it was nice that he wasn't shooing me out the door. I'm so very glad that I got to see him... I haven't really talked about all of our conversations so much, but they were the best I've had in months. There's something about being able to share the ridiculous experience of being a foreigner in Japan with not just another random foreigner, but with one that's viewing it through a very similar lens as you, that just... I don't know how to explain it. Comforts, perhaps. He'll probably be here for a couple more years yet, so perhaps if I return we can get together again. I hope so—it makes me ridiculously content to be in this country when I'm here with a friend like him.
Old Japanese men with me are like kids staring at people in wheelchairs. Sometimes I just shake my head at the doubletakes and wide eyes, and sometimes it just really pisses me off, like this morning. I rolled my eyes full in his face, glared at him, and flipped him off. The gesture may have been lost on him, but it made me feel better, and I have a vague hope that my spiteful glare might cause him to be a little more polite in the future. Oh wait, we're talking old Japanese dude here. Fat chance.
After going through all my pictures of this weekend, I've come to the conclusion that I've got a smear
on my camera lens. I'll check when I get home, but my stuff looks suspiciously "soft focus-y." There's also this batch that I stole from Lennard, and I hope to get more from Jason and Brian soon. They're the ones that got decent
pictures with everyone in them. Here's Brian, Tatsuya, Lennard, and Jason,
and here's Mark being somewhat silly. There's a few
scattered ones with me in them, but none worth pointing out. Later.
Oh yes, and I've detected not a few artifacts introduced when I use mogrify to scale images taken by people with ridiculously
high resolution cameras (albeit less than I get, by far, using Paint). I'm saving all the original high-res ones to take home and
scale properly with Photoshop. In (oh my god) three weeks.
Thievery from Brian complete.
Allowing myself to come home early (catching an 8:41 pm train out from work) as a reward for the unexpectedly spectacular results I came up with after 6 pm tonight. I'm positively jubilant, practically floating on air. After a few more frustrating days with porosity than I'd expected, coming out BAM! with .9+ correlations in my first two hours of working on CSL and EYL felt like I'd been slipped an extra five people's worth of endorphins. I mean, shit, I could even even call it good right now on the fuckers, and the loci angles had been something I'd worried would take me at least a month to get tuned that high! So why the big misjudgment? Well, first of all, the fastest I've ever gotten that good results before was a hair under a week, and that was with the aid of knowing which mathmatical relationships might link things together, whereas the loci are purely experimental values rather than having a solid equation base. And this time I spent 20 minutes brainstorming inputs, fed over 30 of my guesses into the neural network, and then just tried to somehow keep my jaw from falling to the floor over the following two hours. Second of all, the loci had been what Satou-san had been working on last year and utterly failed on (not that that prevented us from patenting his crappy work). Now, I know I complain a lot about my co-workers incompetence with respect to what's involved in my particular project, but it was mostly just blowing off steam. I hadn't honestly believed they could have possibly been that far off base. Seeing as I refuse to believe that I'm all that awesome, and given that I basically guessed and shotgun-blasted the problem, the only alternative is that the disparity stems from their end of things. To the extent that it boggles the mind.
I'm up to going to sleep on Sunday night, and it's 1:08 am. I take full responsibility for having twaddled an hour watching Alias, but if I don't turn out the lights soon, no amount of good results is going to be worth the sadness. Here's to finishing tomorrow the fucking BOOK I'm writing (it'll end up putting the horrendously long entries from September to shame, I'm thinking, without necessarily being more interesting, unfortunately). I might be able to get it done on the commute... We didn't do all that much on Monday, after all.
ARGH! A sleepiness-induced confusing of windows, and what I'd written since Friday evening was BAM! Over-written like that.
It wasn't much, considering that I had like three paragraphs on Friday night and two last night, and I hadn't really gotten anywhere
on my overall weekend recap yet... but it's still annoying. I'll mostly recreate it all in the next hour or so. Thank god for having just read it
over on the train to work.
I don't know how on earth I thought that I'd wake up early today, after a weekend of sleeping in, a long travelling day, and a night of
not getting to sleep until after 1 am. Stinky Jen today, ah well.
Home from dinner, a few beers, and ice cream with Shimo-chan, Satou-chan (I finally figured what was between the "S" and the "ko" in Kitamura-san the Female's name, that being "atou"), Araki-san, and Take-chan. It was exceedingly strange to be having "a night out with the girls," but fun nonetheless. We gossiped about people at work, discussed Canada and the US and Japan (Satou-chan just got back from a week-long trip to Vancouver BC), and just about everything else under the sun that you could imagine me talking about with a secretary and three female lab technicians with about five years of community college between their four heads, and we only had to drop to English for about six nouns worth of vocabulary. They're good girls (Shimo-chan made me laugh when she seriously expounded to the others her reasoning for arguing with Narahara-san from the beginning that I was much smarter than he thought my Japanese made me out to be... hint, her reasons were not serious, and I doubt that she actually had the conversation she claims to have had), and I'm going to miss them when I go home.
I'm still pretty pissed off that I overwrote my start on my recap. I suppose that something like that had to happen at least once while I'm pulling the weird method of updating that I am over here, so I'm trying to remind myself that I haven't done it before and am unlikely to do it again in the next (oh my god) three weeks or so.
Fuck. I didn't get home until nearly 10 pm and had puttering things to do for a while, and now it's 12:20 am and I'm only through Saturday morning on the recap. I've gotta try to get to sleep or I'm going to be doing the late-to-work-because-I-overslept-and-then-took-a-shower dance of humilation tomorrow. I will work on it on the train tomorrow, and while it won't get finished before I roll into my desk, it'll at least be primed to be finished up tomorrow night and posted Thursday morning. I suck—after all this hype (heh), it's going to be a total letdown to actually have it be posted. I am, however, right at this moment saving a backup copy of this file as is. If what I've written tonight got copied over, I'd cry and give up.
Hanging out in Umeda, waiting for the 11:16 pm express to whisk me to my rainy walk home from the station (and my umbrella is at the
very bottom of my bag, sigh). The trip down from Tokyo (well, over, really—Tokyo isn't that far north of Osaka, but quite a bit east) was
uneventful. I worked nearly the whole way, sadly, with a small sanity break around Nagoya to write some postcards. I so very much do not
want to go to work tomorrow; my weekend felt far too short and the month ahead seems far too long and stressful.
I don't think I'll have the energy to complete a weekend recap tonight, but perhaps I'll start it and finish it up tomorrow night, upload it on Wednesday morning. Brief notes concerning the below: I apparently shelled out a 600¥ surcharge for my reserved seat on
Friday night—"eh." And I completely forgot, once again, to get a beer on the way home. Bah humbug.
Strange, but tasty, late dinner of garlic bread and jacket oranges tonight, munched while watching a stupid and fetishy after-midnight
anime. What kind of fetishy? Well, we've had nurses and Bavarian-magical-girl-styled waitresses in the first 10 minutes... and there the
girlfriend goes with the getting naked. Hey, at least I understand all the dialogue in crap like this. Heh.
Totally disoriented by 4:48 incoming spam. First I thought the sound was my alarm, then I fumbled Sayuri over to check my Outlook inbox. Because email will be magically beamed to my non-internet connected device. Oh yes, I was playing with all my marbles this morning. After what seemed like an eternity, I woke up enough to figure out what was happening and felt for my phone. All this for goddamn spam, and can I ask why the HELL Japanese SMS spammers always seem to mail out between 4 and 5 am? Anyway, I'd just laid down my phone and fallen back to sleep in that super quick way people awakened in the middle of the night do when another one came in and woke me up again. Bah.
Jen is being a very silly camper. When I reserved my seat on the shinkansen last night, there were only smoking car seats remaining.
What the hell, I thought, I'm not THAT mindful of the smoke. But as I walked past the train before mine at the platform tonight, and passed
the open door to one of the smoking cars, that oh-so-familiar foul stench of several hours contained smoking came roiling out and I just
couldn't face the idea of sitting in something like that for nearly three hours. And so I walked right past the line for the car my reserved
seat was in, and planted myself at the back of the line for the farthest-down 自由席 (jiyuu seki: unreserved seating) non-smoking car,
figuring that I'd walk through, take a seat if I could find one, and if not, simply continue up to my sure-to-be-skanky reserved one. But
apparently the train I'm on starts from Shin-Osaka, so not only am I in a blessedly unsmokified seat, I managed to snag a window to boot.
Sweet. I probably paid a surcharge for my reserved seat, but ah well.
I meant to snag a beer on my way to catch my train (to have the TRUE shinkansen experience, dontcha know), but I completely forgot.
Nuts. I don't think the stops at the stations between here and Tokyo are long enough to allow me to jump out and get one, so I shall go sadly
beerless. The guy next to me has one, the two men across from us have some, who knows how many people on this entire train are drinking one
RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT... but not me. Oh well, I will make sure to get one when I come back home on Monday, especially if I end up
travelling in the morning or midday. Heh.
I hit the snooze button every nine minutes between 4:50 am and 6:40 am this morning. Not that I was really thinking I'd get up around 5 am, but I was hoping for 5:45 at least... Hooray for bolting out the door fifteen minutes after getting out of bed. And then I let the grey pall and drizzle of the day get to me and decided to take the bus down to the station; if I were a man, I'd say that mornings positively unman me.
I totally forgot last night to talk about the Big Find. As Jon and I were walking back to the station, we rounded a corner and I gasped. Before me was, I shit you not, an Outback Steakhouse. I couldn't fucking believe it. Jon started saying something about how he'd been meaning to see if I wanted to go there for dinner... I grabbed his sleeve. "You knew this was here?!?" I demanded. A little bemused, he said that it'd just gone in in the last month or so, and what was I on about? I babbled something that was surely unintelligible and continued to stare at the posted menu. Cheese fries. Fucking cheese fries. Were a mere 10 minutes walk from Osaka station all this time (okay, not all this time, but still).
Tonight, I snagged a waffle at the stand in Umeda that always smells so good. Unfortunately, they don't taste nearly so good as they smell. But my はら was fucking へった, so I scarfed it down as I walked home (in the pouring rain, mind you, from which Nishihara-san's umbrella somewhat protected me... somewhat). I got a couple funny looks from people I passed, but lordy was I hungry. I dunno why, it's not like my day was any more active or I ate any less at lunch than I normally do.
Oh yes, my day. And all that stuff I was supposed to get done. Things started off well, with two and a half hours of productive work this morning finishing up the tail end of the bulk density business. But then I had to waste a bunch of time explaining neural networks to Yoshiyuki. You see, he brought me out here to work on a blackbox solution to his problem... and now he's all pissy that he doesn't understand what's inside the goddamn magic box, basically. I was so angry about that conversation that I ranted to Jon about it all through lunch, so I don't have it in me to do it any more here, honestly. Suffice to say that Ookubo-san, listening in, learned a lot of profanity today. I finally won Yoshiyuki over to my side at the tail end of lunch, because, goddamn it, I was right and he was wrong.
But then I forgot that there was a 技術討論会 (gijutsu touronkai: technical forum) this afternoon. Normally I love going to these monthly project presentation meetings, but I have so much work to do right now that sitting and listening about projects that I have nothing to do with for two and a half hours just didn't seem like something I wanted to do. Parita was doing a presentation on her graduate research, though, so I figured I should go just in case. After the fact, I thought, "just in case EXACTLY FUCKING WHAT?!?" but it was a bit late at that point.
Coming back from that, I got perhaps an hour of work in before Jon asked if I'd be a sounding board for his ridiculously important 15-minute presentation he's doing tomorrow for some ridiculously important people. As speech practices are wont to do, it took nearly an hour to get through the whole thing. He kept on apologizing for stumbling, seeming to think it'd make me angry. Lord knows I've acted in a similar stead for many friends over my years of studying Japanese, and had enough people do it for me... I know how lines drop out of your head the moment you try to verbalize them. I'm just glad that I'm not the one giving the speech tomorrow.
Upshot: not nearly as much work got done today as I'd hoped. And I'm leaving work an hour early tomorrow to be up in Tokyo by 8 pm, so not all that much will be done tomorrow, either. Sigh.
Heh. Vaguely related to going to Tokyo: I had to go to the ATM tonight before I got my shinkansen ticket, and didn't pay nearly as much attention as I should have to which shortcut button I used... 万 (man: ten thousand), versus 千 (sen: a thousand). Right as I confirmed the transaction, I noticed what I'd done, but assumed that either the ATM or my bank wouldn't let me do what I had just asked to do, or at least ask me to double confirm the amount. But no, apparently Japanese ATMs are perfectly willing to dispense 250,000¥ to me (that's around $2,300 to those keeping track at home). It was rather odd to hold all that cash for a moment... at least depositing it all back was extremely easy.
Ho ho ho. If ever a morning was slated for disaster from the get-go, this one was. Oversleeping would have been worse, I
suppose, but no coffee, loads of work, and every mishap that could happen while making tea at the office are boding no good for the
rest of my day. And of course it doesn't help to have an announcer in my head, looping 「朝は辛い！睡眠不足による！」 ("Asa ha tsurai! Suimin fusoku ni yoru!"... loosely, "Mornings are the worst! Because you didn't get enough sleep!") over and over and over and over (in the summer, one of the commercials I was pounded with was an exhausted woman climbing up stairs, with the voiceover, 「階段は辛い！鉄族不足による！」 ("Kaidan ha tsurai! Tetsuzoku fusoku ni yoru!" or, "Stairs are hard! Because you're iron deficient!"). I claim no responsibility for mis-romanized spellings and/or misheard words—I'm having a bad day.
The plan was to leave work just in time to eat dinner before Alias came on at 10 pm. Yet here I am, writing this while waiting for the 11 pm train to head out of Umeda. Jon's "What time are you leaving?" question gets me every time (perish the thought that I'd prefer dorm dinner and Alias over ramen and a beer with Jon, of course). We've only got until next weekend to hang out before I might never see him again... I hope I'm late home every damn night of it. I'm going to miss him terribly.
Reasons I've decided I love going to eat ramen: 1) Well, of course it tastes good. 2) Ramen restaurants are the only places in Japan pretty much guaranteed to have black pepper on hand. 3) Garlic. Lots and lots of garlic available. 4) I nearly never have to compete for my companions' attention, as I'm usually the only girl there.
Today at work I revisted my old bulk density issues of four months ago. In proof that I've learned something over the intervening time, I teased out some spectacular results, and am well pleased. If it'd been as recalcitrant as it'd been before, it might have taken a week or more to batten it down, but as is, I'll be able to check everything about it off of my horrendous To Do list (the first line reads "OH MY FUCKING GOD") by lunch tomorrow. Only porosity, CSL, EYL, wall friction angle, hopper outlet diameter, and hopper angle to go. Sigh. Considering it's so similar to bulk density, I should have porosity done by lunch on Friday. I hope. God, I hope.
Jen has visions of working weekends in her future.
I wrote the above on the train... now I'm home, and being exhausted, I'm getting my ass in bed.
I am so goddamn glad that I have a heater in my room (it's just another mode on my air conditioner, yay). The Japanese aren't generally down with the idea of, you know, not freezing their asses off in the winter, so several people I know are buying heaters and lugging them home, insulating their apartments, and hoping they don't die. Central heating: it's not that big of a leap in logic!
Oh my fucking god. Yoshiyuki FINALLY takes an interest in what I'm doing, and has NOW, with basically four weeks to go, suddenly asked me to do several additional things. These things would take me in the range of three months to complete to the level that I'd be satisified with putting my name on... I could get them all done in a month and a half to two months, shoddily. But four weeks? When I'm also supposed to be writing a paper that's fit for publication?
Of course, did I say to him that it can't be done? Of course not, sigh. I left work today at 7:15 pm, the earliest I will likely leave for the next month. We'll see how much I get done in the next week or so, and if it looks だめ at that point, I'll make decisions then. I should have stayed late tonight, of course, but I was feeling too overwhelmed to be at all productive. Approach it tomorrow with some semblance of a plan... that's all I got at the moment.
Cry. Of course, a lot of this stems from a problem with presentation on my part. On the VERY few occasions that Yoshiyuki's asked for anything from me, it's been something I could either call up instantly or finish in a day, maximum. I don't think he realizes in the slightest that the reason I've been able to do that is due to the last several months of work I've invested in my project; he's usually asked for conclusions I processed and organized a month earlier, for chrissake. Anyway, I think he's got a completely incorrect idea of the time it takes to get my modeling done, kind of like people who see a Photoshop mockup of a program or Web site and assume that the pretty pictures equals the backend. Teach me to make things seem easy and "pretty." Not that I don't have the groundwork laid for being able to get the stuff done... it's just not a matter of three days work.
(pride) My totally wanked how-to-get-Japanese-working-under-Linux page is being quoted in forums these days. How awesome is that?
Bonetired on a bipolar Monday. I don't think I can muster energy for a narrative today, so we'll go for short-and-sweet-and-sour, chronological style instead.
Sour: insomnia to the 3.5 hours of sleep degree. Sweet: learning that one reason the toilets in the dorm are plugged into the wall is for heated seats in the winter. Sour: being incompetent at Japanese from the breakfast-table get-go. Sweet: morning tea with Jon. Sour: two straight hours of assbusting on the CoP for negligible results. Sweet: joking with Jon over lunch. Sour: Jon and I getting our asses kicked in the free tennis 大会 despite rocking during practice. Sour: freaking out about my monthly report meeting all afternoon. Sweet: chatting with Jeff over talk for much of the afternoon. Sour: utter linguistic failure on the phone with Nishihara-san, setting me up to be in the PERFECT mood before the report meeting. Sweet: finalizing some spectacular results right before going into my meeting. Sour: everything that's always sour about monthly report meetings, overruling even good results to show off. Sweet: getting invited to hang out with Yanno-san, Takahashi-san, Shimura-san, Ashida-san, Nishimura-san, Oomura-san, and new guy #2 during their weekly do-nothing-for-an-hour gathering. Sour: getting totally lost on the way over to LCM (where they all were), resulting in much mocking and embarrassment. Sweet: 45 minutes spent sipping coffee up there. Sour: barely understanding half the conversation up there, barring direct questions. Sweet: coming back to chat with Jeff some more. Sour: Yoshiyuki STILL not having a clue about how I'm to go about writing my final report.
Blah. I am so worried about the next month and how work is supposed to go that all energy good and great is being sucked away. Not to mention that it killed me to have everyone over in LCM today be so upset that I'm leaving so soon. I'm really strongly believing these days that foreigners NEED to be in Japan for at least a year—you don't start ACTUALLY having friends until at least three or four months go by.
And finally, before crawling into bed obscenely early, I will put on my ill-fitting restaurant-reviewer hat and talk about the new cafe that opened up near the station a week or so ago. I often tell people that to imagine Japanese curry, you think of someone dumping curry powder into a generic American beef stew—Le Petit suffers from an EXTREME case of beef stewishness. Edible, barely, but I think I'll try their pasta next time instead. Everything wrong about the entree, though, was made up by the free dessert (although my guess is that after they've been open for a few weeks, they'll not do it anymore). First of all, free is good. When toasted french bread that's been drenched in butter and dusted with sugar is what's free, free is even better. And hey, dinner was cheap.
The water faucet culprit has been narrowed down to Scary Maki, The Mouse, and Tomoko, seeing as they're the only ones here this morning. I've been in the bathroom enough times at the same time as The Mouse to be pretty sure it's not her, and I don't want to think it's Tomoko, so I will keep on blaming Scary Maki.
I have no idea what to do with myself today. I should work on my letters to Brandon and Jeff, but I don't feel like it very much at the moment. I woke up far too early (11:15, hehe)I was planning to have much less time in my day. And I forgot to charge my CD player last night, bother, which makes me not really want to go downtown to get Brandon's お土産 and look for Ryan's, like I should. But I will.
The weather today is spectacular, a t-shirt-in-November day. Which utterly sucks. Today is a ramble the Arboretum with Roland, sip coffee in a bathrobe on a sunlit couch with Mark, drive lazily up from Winlock with Jim sort of day... not a run errands by yourself in downtown Osaka sort of day. Sigh.
Stopped in to check my email and stumbled upon the raging Slashdot discussion about kids and computer privileges. Predictably, the army of kids and idealists who will never have kids were winning the day through sheer numbers (certainly not through being logical and/or convincing). Reading through it all, I've determined that I am firmly NOT on the side of the "leave them alone you fucking bastard parents!!!1" camp NOR on the side advocating bootcamp regulations and electroshock therapy. Sadly, there were precious few contributors with anything to say down the middle. I currently think I'd advocate my kids' computer being a public space object until they buy/build their own. Of course, having no husband to confer with on the kids I don't have, saying that is pretty meaningless. Anyway, most of the complaining seemed to come from the legions of boys with death-grips on their porn collection. So far as that part goes... well, I rather liked my parents' approach. Bryce and I could check out any book we wanted from the library. If librarians gave us crap on something, Mom would check it out instead, no ifs, ands, or buts, no questions asked. And let me tell you, quite a few novels with some pretty explicit sex scenes got checked out from the library over the years.
I stuck my face in at the だんご shop on my way home today and was delighted when the woman working today recognized me and what I usually get (安倍川餅 or abekawa mochi, aka warm mochi dusted with roasted soy flour, yum yum). She was sad to hear that I'm going home in a month—said that I'm the only gaijin in the neighborhood that doesn't freak her out, largely because she can rattle prices off at me without worrying if I understand or not, I think. She referred to me as the 「日本人外人」 of the neighborhood, which amused me.
I was joined by The Mumbler at dinner today, causing me to eat as fucking fast as I could. Don't get me wrong, The Mumbler is very nice, sweet, even. But one of the many people in my dorm whose names I've never actually sussed out, his nickname is based on the fact that he does, in fact, mumble. To the point where I basically can't understand him (I don't call the 10-20% of his speech I catch "understanding"). I can sort of pretend to have a conversation with him, mostly by agreeing with everything he says, but I live in fear of when he asks me questions. I can tell when he does it by tone of voice, but 9 out of 10 times, I won't have understood what the question actually was. I wonder if he has noticed that I always have some errand to run that causes me to not wait for him after I finish eating, if we're the only two at the table? If he has, it doesn't seem to have made him suspicious or anything, as he goes on sitting by me any time we're eating dinner at the same time. I feel bad, considering that he is, as I said, very nice, but damn do I hate having to talk to him.
Jon emailed me midday today to apologize for having forgotten his phone at Ai-chan's apartment all yesterday, heh. I was tempted to be bitchy, but I dunno, I have a hard time staying mad at the guy. And he did apologize, a lot. Points for that.
I learned last night that Kojio-san honestly thinks that my Japanese is better than Jon's. I was floored. And during that conversation, two or three other people walking behind us chimed in that they absolutely agreed. I couldn't fucking believe it. I can't even have a goddamn proper conversation because I don't know the words to have it with! While Jon is nearly a walking 和英英和 (wa-ei ei-wa: J-E E-J) dictionary! And let's not even get into the pitiful excuse for grammar that I employ when speaking. This, my friends, demonstrates the magic that an accent has. The flip side is, of course, when I struggle with coming up with a word (as I am very prone to do), and my friends, mistakenly under the impression that I'm fluent or some shit, can't understand why I'm suddenly flailing helplessly.
I woke up this morning, completely wide awake, at 9 am. Couldn't for the life of me figure out why, until I turned over and saw my clothes strewn all over the room instead of neatly in the laundry pile. Oh yeah, I got drunk last night. Heh.
What an annoying convergence of events. All three washers are in use and they're cleaning the shower area. So I'm back upstairs, hanging out and listening to Denis Leary, Jeff Foxworthy, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Bill Cosby, and a host of others whose names I don't know. There's nothing that cheers me up like listening to Denis Leary... now what does THAT tell you about my personality?
Holy fuck! Transformers is on!
Having several hours (okay, like one and a half) until my laundry is done, I figured I'd put Hedwig on to have something to listen to. Brandon would like to know that I've been humming songs from it since watching it on Thursday night. I think I'll pick up the soundtrack when I get home.
I finally put my finger on what's been bugging me about Japanese Starbucks! The prices for extra shots are hidden deep away at the bottom in tiny text instead of clearly in the fore. And it took three tries to get my double mocha, blast incompetent baristas and nincompoops at the register.
Hanging out downtown until the last train on the chance Jon and Ai call me back (his phone was off or he was in a tunnel) and want to head out for the night. Jon and I had previously agreed to go out, but we didn't set a time/place to go or even meet, so who knows what's up... not me. This is the last night I could go with him, so I have my fingers crossed that he won't flake out on me. But I'm not really in the mood to go out by myself, so he's got forty minutes before I bail.
Went up to Kyoto to get dinner and a drink with Andrew tonight. I spent the greater part of the three hours I was up there complaining about work. He was very nice about listening to me rant, but I felt a little bad after the fact. It'll be his turn to rant to me the weekend after next, so he's got two weeks to come with something to complain about, heh.
I'm really looking forward to heading up to Tokyo next weekend. Friends to see, and something that'll feel more like a trip than Kobe/Kyoto do... It'll be good. I'm staying at Brian's. That part will either really suck or be really fun. I'm hoping for the latter; as long as we keep our maturity hats on and our senses of humor intact, I think it'll be a blast.
Jon did, in fact, flake. I suppose he might yet call, and complain that I should have kept faith and waited; he did say on Friday that he'd come back down to party in Osaka after the rugby match he was going to catch in Kyoto, but without knowing what time that match was over, I was a bit in the dark to say the least. The boy needs to learn to respond to his freaking email—I messaged his phone late last night and asked him to let me know what his Saturday plans are, so it's not like he didn't have a full 24 hours to do some clarifying. Ah well. He gets enough shit from his girlfriend about being late and all, so I won't add to it.
I'm really more mad because this was pretty much my last chance to go. Two weekends from now is Ai's birthday and the weekend before Jon leaves, so it's 99% likely we won't go out then. Markus is uberbroke lately, not to mention soon moving to Kobe, so he's likely out... unless I suddenly start feeling up to going by myself, I'm out of luck methinks. Andrew suggested I go when I'm up in Tokyo. Attractive idea, but my gut instinct is that Brian wouldn't be up for it, although it wouldn't hurt to ask. And there's always the off chance that Markus'll be up there that weekend, which could be cool.
I really really really hate whichever bitch it is that's constitutionally incapable of turning the water faucets all the way off in the bathroom. I bet it's Scary Maki, but whoever it is, I mean, what the fuck. It's not that hard to turn it off all the way, and you can hear it echoing through the halls, so I can't believe they aren't noticing it.
Wide awake at 1:30 am, I'm watching a rebroadcast of today's Pistons-Lakers game before settling in for some Band of Brothers love. With no commitments tomorrow (and having never had enough to drink tonight to even be buzzed), I anticipate sleeping basically all day tomorrow. Hah.
Canada is where it's at. From Salon, not a paragon of balanced reporting, but this is what I've been talking about. The anti-abortion movement has grown savvy, chipping away at the margins of reproductive rights, laying siege to their foundations, but leaving the edifice apparently intact.
Other Salon news that makes the daughter of an environmental consultant and a former EPA employee want to cry on a sunny morning.
Open it and they will drink it. This was the COMPLETELY LOGICAL reasoning that has an already quite drunk Jen holding an open can of Kirin at time of writing. Now, why the drinking of it is desirable in any fashion, well, I leave that as an exercise to the reader. Hint: I've been drinking all night and there's Kirin to spare in my fridge, why waste it?
Two measly beers was not nearly enough to make me enjoy the bowling 大会 tonight. I had a much better time at the 飲み会 afterwards, mostly because all the single guys got fed up with Parita not getting it when they tried to flirt with her and so started flirting with me out of desperation. I was being a bitch about not translating that stuff, I'll admit. She certainly doesn't need my goddamn help. And let me tell you, it's pretty goddamn depressing when people only flirt with you because the pretty girl can't understand their native language. I would have been much happier sitting next to Kojio-san, who seemed poised after his two beers at the bowling alley to profess love for me, wife or no wife, beautfiul Parita or no Parita, only two beers or not only two beers. But no, he was several seats up and across the table from me when we went out drinking afterwards, and so I was stuck translating people's lines on Parita all night. Well, okay, not ALL nght, but long enough to make me cranky. One would have been enough to make me cranky, really.
At least new hire Matsumoto-san seemed somewhat gratifyingly bedazzled by me, and embarrassed in just the right way when Parita insisted that we take a picture together. Hanato-san's possessive pulling several weeks ago, admittedly, was more gratifying, but I'll take "bedazzling" the new 30-year-old unmarried cutie over possessive pulling by the married guy any day. No matter how adorable Hatano-san is, in that cute little-boyish sort of way.
I mean, hey, sure, I may not be a skinny Asian girl. But that doesn't mean I don't have my charm.
Brandon K. might laugh that I had Erasure in my head allllllll day yesterday. I'd laugh too, if it hadn't been the same damn song the entire damn time. There's only so much I'm so in love with youhoohoo! I'll be forever bluehoohoo! one can take before going a bit batty.
(giggling) I'm telling you, people who despise country music need to get the stick out of their asses, find a sense of humor, and listen to some. And don't get me started on the Japanese. The guy next to me on the train likely wonders why I'm standing here laughing, but even if I explained the lyrics to She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy, I doubt he'd share my amusement. Just a guess.
Wow. I just read what I wrote last night. Why the HELL I thought that "fulmination" was the word I wanted to be using, I have absolutely no idea.
In direct contravention of every principle I have about this section of my site, I went back and edited in some names on my list of
people here back in August. Just thought I'd say.
"Thoughts while shaving Beckett"—the sort of search query that just makes one scratch one's head. It turns out that Donal Beckett's
book Thoughts While Shaving was published last month (who he is, or why we care about his thoughts while shaving, I don't know), so that's
what the person was ACTUALLY looking for, no doubt. But when you search for this set of words, the first several links are all links to the
book on Amazon and other such sites. Why, oh why, did a random Canadian person actually click on a link to this page?
I was starting to feel sorry for all the people who keep on searching for Elf movie quotes and getting to Don't tell the elf, so I added You sit on a throne of LIES! just for them. And they say I never do anything for the people.
I'm vaguely starting to think about trying to manage /tht/ better. For example, I've long had the most recent post at the top of the
index page, which makes sense, and I like it. But when reading through archives, going backwards in time as you go down the page is a little
annoying. It seems as if I could make a happy automated solution that would fix this for me.
Well, I could if using pico to do stuff on zoggins from Japan wasn't such a bastardly annoying thing to do. Ah well, I'll be home in a bit over a month, maybe I'll do it then.
If I don't forget.
Clean up code, CSSify more, all that jazz, is on the to-do list... I think I know what I'll do in the few weeks at home before school
starts. I refuse, however, to go all LiveJournal-y style, as tempting as some aspects might be (like posting by time rather than by day). Damnit,
I was doing things before them, and I LIKE some of the ways that I do things. Even if they're a little backasswards. Shut it.
John and Jeff disclaimer: the following bit is not a personal attack on you. Not your faults that you both reminded me of it in the last two days, and I'm inflating it for some sort of laughable dramatic effect.
Out of the "things I've said before and will continue saying intermittently until the end of time" department: a curse of being smart is that your friends don't let you get away with being stupid on occasion, no, not even for a moment. Let's make no bones about it, I'm smart. There are 6432467855432 things and more that I can't do or understand how to do and never will, of course—we've not talking about upper limits here but rather distance from the common denominator—I don't claim genius. In fact, at least four people I can think of who might be reading this are so much smarter than me that they might as well be a different clas of human. But back to my original stream of thought. Even if you really want to be temporarily stupid and indulging you might be a sympathatic Kodak moment, as a smart person, you ain't getting none. You see, being a smart and logical person, your friends reason, there's no need for this indulgence crap. Cut straight to the appeal to your logic, because you're smart and so it's logic that works with you. And yeah, it does. I just want to have my fucking cake and eat it too.
I came home and went pretty much straight to bed last night, so I didn't talk about the whole ふぐ thing. As has been readily apparent from my constant writing all day, I did not die. So far as possible death experiences go, it was distinctly humdrum. But let's talk about what wasn't humdrum. When they brought the ふぐ for the 鍋 to the table, it was still MOVING. We're not talking the last heroic gasps of a fish right as it runs out of air, here. We're talking chunks of ふぐ meat that were spastically jumping around the platter. (Ishibashi-san took a movie of it and promised it to me, so I'll horrify people later). Nothing mysterious about it, actually... it was just that crazy nervous response you see when you dissect frogs, for example. But when you're trying to nerve yourself up to eat something, it REALLY doesn't help if that something is pulsating like a heart in that freaky Temple of Doom priest's hand. BA bump BA bump BA bump.
For ten fucking minutes.
Other than that, it was a pretty standard outing. We were supposed to be speaking all in English, but it quickly degenerated to me and Hatano-san and Ishibashi-san's two friends gabbling (what the hell is gabbling? I have no idea what I intended with that word) along in Japanese while Ishibashi-san and Parita had their own conversation. And me and Hatano-san drinking a lot, but that certainly wasn't unexpected, heh. Ishibashi-san's friends were exactly what you'd expect from a pair of Japanese girls. Given that I'm not a guy, I thought they were pretty wretchedly boring, but they had all sorts of random (sadly, boring-random rather than interesting-random) questions to ask me about the US and English, so at least the conversation kept going.
Maybe having such a good communication night last night is what made me so cranky about not being able to speak for shit today. It's bizarre how on-off my Japanese is. Not that "on" is necessarily all that "on," but I define it as being able to reasonably communicate without uncomfortable pauses—if I can't come up with the correct way to say something, I either rephrase or brute force the general meaningeither way, conversation moves along and my mistakes are soon forgotten. It's when you "ah um ah ah ah ah" for two minutes straight (like Jon does), or suddenly fall into a full paragraph of English (like I do) that people truly notice that something's wrong. Sure, people think that I'm slightly retarded, but because they can Talk with me (when I'm "on", at least), they don't hold it against me. The people who DO hold it against me are the ones that I'm inexplicably never "on" with. Shimura-san, for example, has gotten to the point where he actively avoids having to talk to me, and I don't blame him a bit. Anyway, point being that "on" is good despite its failings, and "off" is bad. Usually I'm more "on" than "off," but today was not one of those days.
Good fuck lord am I being loquacious today. What the hell's gotten into me?
What was meant to be a quick jaunt downstairs to make some hot chocolate turned into anything but, as Arimori, Nishimura-san, and Stefan were down having dinner. I secretly adore Arimori, and I think he adores me back, honestly, but he's also one of my "off" people, and so I often just don't talk to him out of embarrassment. But Nishimura-san, I simply can't resist. Arimori's cute, but he's got nothing in comparison. So I sat down with them to chat and drink my hot chocolate (and give some to Nishimura-san), which is when he learned for apparently the first time that I'm not a permanent addition to the big happy Sumitomo family (he and Arimori both work at Takarazuka, so it's not like he has much contact with me). He was gratifyingly horrified, and demanded the chance to go out drinking before I leave... With Jon and Iwahara-san gone all next month, I'd be more than happy to get some Arimori and Nishimura-san love, heh.
And I haven't even fucking talked about the crazy disaster drill today, but perhaps that's for the best. Someone remind me to tell them about it in person, because you REALLY need to have demonstrations of the running and the saluting and the arm wheeling. Words would not do it justice. Although so much of it consisted of the word "yosh" being yelled repeatedly and loudly, you'd think that doing so was the only point of the exercise.
Treasured emails, just by virtue of the author. Read obsessively over and over line by line, representing fulmination of all wishes and despair at the same time, never overtly at cross-purposes, yet never saying that which is most hoped for. And that's not even the ふぐ poisoning talking... Nope, just beer. But I'm not dead!
I hereby swear to never go to (or be called to) the staffed night window at the post office ever again. Twice now they've they've charged
me more than they should, probably because policy says that OF COURSE the gaijin can't be right when she insists on different postage.
For example, last night, despite my insisting that all I needed was 50 yen stamps for postcards, THEY insisted I needed 70 yen stamps
(and seeing as my previous postcards have arrived at people's houses, I'm relatively sure I'm right on this one... unless I was using
80 yen stamps. I forget). Grumble.
My Japanese superpower seems to be to have people give me umbrellas. Not just lend them to me, but give them to me.
Narahara-san at the beginning of the summer, Kitamura-san tried last week but I deflected her, and Nishihara-san this morning. I let
him get away with it because it was fucking POURING. Blah. I don't know why I bothered... my glasses stayed spot-free on the way in
from the station, but my legs are still all ベチャベチャ nasty.
Hah. The one-liners that pop into my head, they so (un)funny. Today's gem, interrupting a perfectly good set of dedicated work: "I give the happy times to my friends, and barf the bad out on the internet!" I crack me up.
Home late today. I was getting up to go home around 7:40 when Jon asked if I was "leaving right then." In one of those sorts of voices like the person asking is definitely hoping for a negative answer. How is a girl to abandon her only real friend in town when he has that tone of voice? We headed out from work together around 8:15, and spent a nice hour or so hanging out over coffee... I'm going to cry when he's gone. He'll be leaving in three weeks, and my last month will seem so very very long without him.
Parita told me the other day that watching Jon and me interact was unlike watching any two other people at work, or anyone at her dorm. She thinks we've "bonded," heh. I don't act any differently with him than I do any of my friends at home, so perhaps they wouldn't think anything of it; I certainly never thought that my way of making friends and being friends might be something necessarily out of the ordinary.
Only slightly related, it IS an entertaining diversion every now and again on the train to wonder if I were staying indefinitely, if I could wean him off of skanky Japanese ho's. I doubt it, but like I said, my imagination isn't necessarily constrained by so trifling things as realities. More likely I'd just keep barreling down the fast track to being a surrogate male friend, hah. Which isn't a bad thing, mind you, it just alternately makes me howl with laughter and scowl with disgust.
I worked and got shitloads done today, which was good and would normally preclude having anything to say. I could rant about Yoshiyuki's habit of reading my email over my shoulder, but I won't... for now. But on a tangent:
"Jen 天才! Kiss you~~" (tensai: genius) read the email tonight from Kitamura-san the Female (I always forget her first name, which is terrible considering how much I adore her... Sakako? Sakoko? There's an "S." And a "ko." I'm supposed to call her that, because Kitamura-san the Male is the one who gets his actual name used, oops). It's always nice to have my awesomeness proclaimed to the world. But this is the email that Yoshiyuki was about to read over my shoulder today, and given that he would have immediately and loudly asked me why I was a genius, I made with the quickness of the alt-tab.
Why am I a genius? Because K-chan is planning a girl's night out drinking with me, Shimo-chan, Araki-san, and Take-chan. Parita may or may not be invited, but Kumamoto-san is conspicuously not. When I saw the original email about it yesterday, it didn't go to Parita and Kumamoto-san, and I took that to mean that it was hush-hush from them (I think I may have heard K-chan inviting Parita in person tonight, but I might be wrong... they know she doesn't drink). Kumamoto-san is scary, and I wasn't about to be the one to break radio silence by running around letting it drop in front of her. K-chan emailed me to that effect tonight, complete with barely interpretable Japanese emoticons and a plea to keep things, as they say, on the downlow, because at this point, if Kumamoto-san found out, the aftermath would make us cry. I ^_^'d back (I'll get the hang of stupid Japanese emotions eventually) that I'd already thought of it and my lips had already been planned to be sealed, which is what prompted the outburst of genius love. The "kiss you~~" part, well, you would have had to be on the train yesterday with us to get it. But no, Senor Dammen, there is no lesbian love to go along with the genius'ing.
In sane parts of the world, it's no biggie if you aren't invited out drinking by people who aren't really your friends anyway, but at Sumitomo, it's a BIG OL no-no to plan excursions that happen to, for example, exclude a particular single one (or two, but like I said, I'm unclear on Parita's status and everyone knows she's not of the boozing persuasion) of the seven women in the department while inviting the rest. So, I REALLY did not want Yoshiyuki reading this letter out loud and then asking me what it was about, which he is somewhat FUCKING PRONE TO DO with my Outlook mail. Unrelated to being a genius and kiss you's, I think the next time he does that I'm just going to utterly lose it.
But to bring me back to happy butterflies and horrible death... If I don't post anything on Thursday morning my time, it's because I'm dead (or just late to work, heh). Tomorrow night is the "The blowfish is irresistable but our life is dear" outing (I didn't name it, but I wish I had... Ishibashi-san's friend who did turned it out in a complete accident of Engrish in full, mindblowing action). Yes, I'm going out to eat ふぐ tomorrow night. Not all that many people die each year of ふぐ poisoning, but you never know who the lucky one will be! All I'm saying is, for 5000¥ for dinner, I better be getting some damn tasty food or rigor mortis out of the deal.
Post-it notes that I should stick to my monitor:
The blowfish is irresistable but our lives are dear
I can't take it anymore!
I am a fish I am a fish I am a fish
If I can come up with at least three other bits of complete randomness to stick up, I'll do it. And wait to see how long Shiojiri-san takes to figure out that I'm subtly mocking his Post-it-laden screen.
Oh for christ's sake. Brandon, you need to also find me a shirt that disavows Rumsfeld. Or better yet, someone just wake me up and tell me that the current administration was just a bad dream.
Maybe it's because I'm only reading about movies this year instead of going to see them, or maybe because reading reviews and press releases has a different impact on the brain than the TV advertising that has usually provided my mainline to what's coming out, but I've suddenly realized how many movies Hollywood pumps out every year. My GOD is it a lot. I started tuning out all the crap a few years ago, and of course was never exposed to some of it because I watched the wrong channels and saw the wrong trailers... But in print I can't avoid the constant stream of mindbogglingly bad cinema being barfed out into American pop culture on a weekly basis. Well, okay, I could, but when I run out of everything else to read on the train, it's that or stare about. And trust me, people and concrete scenery is nowhere interesting enough on a daily basis to have had me doing it past the first month or so here.
Now that I'm opting for bakery snacks for dinner on Mondays (today: a so-so "cheese bowl, and a surprisingly tasty "Mexican frank" that even has green chilis adorning it), I can watch what's on at 7 pm, before Conan. Hooray? The Asia-Pacific satellite news is pretty much the most interesting thing on... I skimmed past Inuyasha, long enough to satisfy myself that yes, it's obviously the same character designer as for Sailor Moon, yawned, and found myself listening to Australian political scandals. Could be worse, I suppose.
Yeeehhhhheeeeeehhheeeeaaaaaah.... Went downstairs to fill my waterbottle, and was forced at spatulapoint to eat some potatoes that had been covered with onions and cheese and green pepper and canadian bacon. With Tabasco sauce. All because the Masudas got some special お土産 Hokkaido butter and wanted to use it on something that wasn't normal dinner (skipping). And in exchange for going out in the rain tonight to get stamps, I bought myself milk, so I can have hot chocolate... With the happiness in the tumminess.
Man, all I can say is that the Smap boys killed their voices over the summer tour. They haven't been able to sing for shit for the last three or four weeks, and I nearly want to turn the TV off when the camera starts focusing on Nakai, he's been killing me so bad. Too bad they can't just replay ones recorded from last year, seeing as they've got to be promoting either their new stuff or other artists ever week. But it HURTS.
Steadfastly avoiding the depression tonight. And having warded it off with a sign against the evil eye and a stiff cup of hot chocolate, I'm going to crawl in bed and hope it doesn't notice me.
I was defeated AGAIN last night by Dirty Harry. I got a little farther in it this time, but still just couldn't stay awake. Solution? Watch it today while my laundry's going, heh.
Brandon and Ryan appeared to have syncronized their watches and their ideas on presents to me, as I went downstairs this morning to collect a package, this time from Ryan, containing a postcard and a t-shirt. A quite amusing one of a famous church in Barcelona... fronted with Homer Simpson. Jon and I were just having a talk the other day about how everywhere else in the world we've been, you can get Simpsons tourist stuff, but not in Japan. We're really not sure why... you just don't see Simpsons branded ANYTHING here.
The near-five month tally of postcards, letters, notes, and cards on my walls: 11 from my mother, 4 from Ryan, 7 from Grandma Vera, 1 from Kate, 2 from Grandma Gloria, 1 from my brother, 1 from Brandon, 1 from Brian. An interesting distribution; I don't believe in any way that it reflects who cares about me more or any bullshit like that, but it does lend insight as to the sort of person who still puts pen to paper instead of or in addition to email. And there's also one of my wall from me, heh, as there was one of the postcards that I bought that I liked so much I couldn't bear to send it.
You know, Hugh Jackman looks fantastically like a young Clint Eastwood.
There are times when I miss Jim so badly that I want to press my hands to my face and wail out the pain in a banshee scream. It's extremely inconvenient when one of these attacks takes place in a public place... like on the bus today. On a cool and cloudy November day, on that stretch of road towards Senri Chuo that looks so like Seattle, with one of his favorite songs playing in my ears, I suppose I should have expected it.
WP has Band of Brothers in on DVD now; I guess I know what I'll be watching for some of the next weeks. Some day I want to actually have HBO... until that day, I'll thank whoever came up with putting television out on video. Even though it's dreadfully hard to watch military movies without Jim here to lean up against.
David Schwimmer is fucked. To an entire generation of kids, he'll never be anything other than his character on Friends.
I really wish I knew what the hell was up with the guy singing in the streets on some nights here. The syllables are too strung out for me to have a hope of figuring out what he's saying... perhaps I'll try describing it to Jon and see if he knows. Something religious, I have no doubt, but is he in a car, driving around, or what? And why the FUCK can't he cut out some of the feedback on his microphone?
I finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo tonight in a two-hour push. For one of the very few times in my life I hold that I prefer the (recent) movie version... the book is too long for the story it contains and frankly, I prefer the ending in the movie. I understand why it became a classic, and I'm even glad that I read it, but I'm not going to let it being a classic force me into falsely saying that I LIKED it.
Oh, where is a Brandon when I most need him? A Mark when I most want him? Or even my mother. I could so very use one of them.
The incredible tiredness continues. I popped in a movie last night and laid down on my bed to watch it; before ten minutes were up, I'd decided there was no way I was going to be able to stay awake and turned it off to go to sleep. At 11:fucking:30, mind you. And then I finally woke up around 12:30 today. It's a manifestation of depression/homesickness, I know, but knowing that doesn't make it any less annoying.
I'm rather at a loss as to what to do with my day. Originally, Andrew was going to come down tonight for dinner, but some things came up and that went out the window.
I know! (falsely happy voice and sarcastic little bounce) I'll go SHOPPING!
I mean, hell, I don't have anything else to do. I don't feel like cleaning up the place yet (I'll do it tomorrow, I swear), I need to write postcards but I think I'll save that for a campout at Starbucks tomorrow... And there ARE some presents that I need to buy still.
After five years, I still get the same fluttering-in-my-tummy burst of music-induced endorphins upon hearing the opening guitar of Days of the New's Downtown that I did when I first heard it. I'm something of a sucker for picked guitar in general, but something about that particular song just does me in. Not to mention very strongly imaging the rainy and dark night I first listened to it, just as I had shut the door to the van after some errands at the U Bookstore. I sometimes fancy that I even remember how individual raindrops traded down the windshield as I drove.
Andrew was able to come down for a visit and Indian food and beer after all, which was most appreciated. Eating out is so much nicer when you have someone else to do it with. Eating alone at home isn't bad, but when I go out it just doesn't feel complete without a face across the table. Sitting at the bar staring at the cooks doesn't count. Small things: being able to discuss the food with someone, not having to be the one to call for water refills, ordering an appetizer because there's someone to share it with. They count.
Utter randomness, as I get home to find that Brandon sent me a shirt that says "I'm sorry my president's an idiot. I didn't vote for him." In six different languages, no less, although no Japanese, more's the pity. It took me a bit to figure out who it was from, heh, as the information was buried on the sealed packing slip, but it's perfect. I love it! I'll wear it tomorrow.
And speaking of my idiot president, I've been meaning to complain for a few days about his statement last week that the US "was not ready for a total ban on abortion." Implicit in this statement is his belief that we are in the process of getting ready. The day those on high manage to buy enough support to ban abortion is the day Jen moves to Vancouver BC. It pisses me off because damnit, if I want to get an abortion, that's my own goddamn business, and not some rightwing sanctimonious bastard in Alabama's business. If I don't want to get an abortion, it's STILL not his (her) goddamn business. Augh!
I'm finding it harder and harder, as time goes on, to conceal my utter hatred of The Mouse. In truth, I no longer attempt to if there's no one in the hall and her back is to me, or if she's in the bathroom and I've already passed by. Everything about her screams things about Japan that I hate, not least her xenophobic shyness. On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate her belief that I'll break into her room someday and shoot her as an 8. Every time she ducks her head at me with that frightened look in her eye, I just want to strangle her.
!!!! Return of the King preview on TV gives Jen the shivers. So ANNOYING that I won't be back until three days after it comes out at home. All of my friends will have seen it that Wednesday or Thursday, sigh.
Things I regret knowing very little or nothing about: unions, investing, political systems, economics. And yet every time I try to wrap my head around such things, I seem to fail. And they say SCIENCE is hard? Pfft.
For those tired of pictures with my camera, or just curious about the picture quality of relatively new camera-keitai, I offer you a picture of me and Jon goofing around while waiting for Tall Jon a few weeks ago.
I lied about writing a lot last night, apparently. I fell asleep with a book open and the light on, in the ten minutes between two separate emails to my phone. The phone was right next to my head and I didn't hear a goddamn thing.
I've been a mad linking fool lately, but I just keep on finding quotes that I feel obligated to spread further. My guess is that it's because I can't go running around quoting the stuff verbally here; most people wouldn't understand the English, Parita would only think such things funny if I explained it excessively, and Jon runs only about a 50% chance of finding nerd humor funny at any given moment. Where's a Jim or a Jeff or a Ryan when I need one? Because THEY'D laugh at this: I learned that typing in all caps wasn't cool like War Games, but was totally lame, like Short Circuit.
I thieved several pictures from Jason to make up for the fact that I never appear (well, rarely), in pictures taken with my own camera. So if someone is DYING to see me from this weekend, this directory is for you. I also finally got around to Brandon's mogrify suggestion and shrunk the pictures that were marked sumitomo-seigi_center_peeps_* from the godawful resolution they were at. You can't see people's faces as well now, but you also don't have to spend four minutes downloading and scrolling around the damn picture, either.
A doozy of a missed thought today, as I had a brilliant idea and was about to scribble it down when a bag full of groceries tumbled off the rack on the train right onto my head. CalorieMate and a bag of rice and some unidentifiable boxes nearly knocked my glasses off my face, although I think it surprised the man standing next to me more than it did me, and the poor woman to whom the groceries belonged was more upset by far than I. I just took it as an extension of the general shittiness of my day, really.
Not that it was a BAD day, per se, but it certainly wasn't good. A day when I wished very hard on my way home (before the groceries incident, but even more afterwards) that I was coming home to a hug and some conversation rather than the TV and the hum of the refrigerator. I did learn how to make some pretty sophisticated UserForms in Excel VBA today, which pleased me (although the display bug which puts the cursor at random spots even when focus is set correctly definitely did not), so I'll hold on to that bit and cradle it to me along with Annie tonight.
I'd forgotten what movie I'd rented and stuck in my DVD player unwatched a few days ago... I love being surprised! Although watching a French movie with Japanese subtitles seems even stranger than a Chinese one for some reason, it gave me a kick to see Jean Reno holding a picture of him and his character's old flame in front of the main Kiyomizu temple where I was this weekend. Even more to see him actually walking around the place towards the end of the movie. I always like seeing places I've been in movies, but the thrill is doubled if it's somewhere that I was just at a day or two before. I'd probably get over the childish glee in it if I lived somewhere like New York, it occurs to me. Not enough movies are shot in Seattle for me to have gotten used to the whole idea.
I've been meaning to watch Wasabi for months (years? I remember seeing the trailer with Jim at the Metro, but not at all what movie we'd gone to see), but I'm not sure it ever made it into Seattle theaters. The longer I watch the more I think it must have been over a year ago at least; the fashion sense on the streets of Tokyo in this movie is very similar to what I saw in Hakodate two years ago. And here I'd been starting to think that six-inch moonboots had been a figment of my imagination. It's all cowboy boots these days, right ugly ones too.
I read this morning that Ridgway finally offically admitted to the Green River Killer murders. I had to read the article twice—you see, when I was growing up, the Green River Killer was the bogeyman, a terrifying figure of near-monstrous proportions. I remember being quite afraid to go out alone at night as a child in the 80s, although I was miles away from the center of badness and he didn't go for little girls anyway, afraid in that same formless way that I was afraid of the dark. It's rather hard to think that he's actually a real person, to be caught and forced to confess and convicted. But reading the news story this morning... it was like a breeze sweeping away cobwebs of childhood fears in the back corners of my mind.
You know, it was only on 10/29 that I put the lyrics to I Hate Scotland up, and by yesterday I was the top Google hit for it, even if you don't use the extra keyword "lyrics." I tell you, Google has got my fucking number.
I'm not sure which annoys me more: that I got a mosquito bite behind my knee, or that there's mosquitos in my room in flippityflipping November in the first place.
Reading an article on San Fran on the train this morning, I played a thought experiment on moving there. Permanently. It wouldn't be for a few years, of course—in my imagination it was when I was perhaps 30. But the more I thought about it, the more one thought kept intruding: how much I want to grow old with Seth and Jeff and Jason in Seattle. How very odd to have that set of friendships suddenly glare so strongly into the forefront.
They've been up since yesterday, but I finally renamed pictures from this weekend. I took shitloads,
perhaps in a way to make up for not taking any the last two weeks or so? Who knows. There are a few of people, although we used Jason's
camera for most of the shots of all of us (I'll steal some of those later), so there's only one with me in it, and
I never got any with Ayako. But here's everyone else
Imagine my disgust as not one, not two, not even three, but six more mosquito bites manifested themselves over the course of my day. I killed a mosquito in my room last night, which is part of why I find this all so dreadfully unfunny. When I killed it, it hadn't fed lately, so there'd apparently been more than one of the fuckers around. I have a screen on my window, but I give up, my window's closing.
I hereby dictate my evening to watching TV from my bed rather than writing something long here. In revenge, I shall probably write something hideously long tomorrow night, just you wait!
Verdict on their third day here: Kobe is much nicer when it isn't raining, although walking the waterfront in the drizzle did remind me pleasantly of why I'd like to live in Kobe the next time I come here.
I'm sick to death of normality. Dainty and well dressed Japanese girls who can't stand to watch violent or scary movies. Trendy Japanese boys who make their friends wait nearly an hour in the morning. Obnoxious foreigners who drool loudly over Japanese girls. Overblown boys who tell unfunny jokes that are predictable eight sentences in advance.
I'm sick to death of friends of circumstance. I miss them all at home on a constant basis, of course, but a weekend like this brings it into more clarity than normal. Even those two who are currently friends by my choice can't make up for their inadvertent deficiencies; Jon has his own life to pay attention to and Andrew simply lives too far away.
I'm "in the homestretch," I'm "incredibly pissed off and cranky about life here," and I'm "bizarrely thinking of coming back to this godforsaken place"... related thoughts, really. I am wanting to come back, because I feel like this six month stay is not the full time that I want to be here. The frustration I feel about being in such a temporary state (as opposed to a more permanent resident) rises as that state draws to an end. It happened last time I was in Japan when I had a little under a month left, and will likely happen again, in the last fraction, the next time I'm here. I like putting down roots, damnit, and six months just isn't enough time to develop them.
The Quick and the Dead. Completely a good investment of my next roughly two hours. Westerns, particularly ones with Sharon Stone playing a gunslinger (of sorts), get my wholehearted approval. An apparently 12 year old Leonardo Dicaprio and 20 year old Russell Crowe, not to mention a delicously sadistic Gene Hackman, don't hurt. For a cranky day, a movie can't make everything better, but it can at least smooth the edges to a better finish.
Tonight was a pomegranate night, even if it was a not nearly ripe enough one. It nearly made up for life, which is really all that I ask from a simple piece of fruit. Especially when I find that one of the most popular actresses around at the moment is a month younger than me. Not that I have any desire to have started acting in movies when we were both 16, but it's still a bit jarring. Heh. Andrew tells me that it only gets worse.
It's too bad that I randomly decided to NOT tape Smap Smap tonight. It's been frigging hilarious tonight in a way that people at home wouldn't have to understand Japanese to appreciate.
And I'm not usually given to quoting from The Stranger, but I hereby offer you this opening line from Roger Steiner's food article this last week: Food whores, I have found our uberpimp. I'm not sure it could possibly get better than that.
Gawd, is it a travesty to be up at 6:30 am on a Sunday.
Verdict on the end of their second day here: my feet HUUURRRRRRTTTT. We left the dorm at just a bit after 7 today, and spent all day tramping around Kyoto. Ayako went to one of the 舞子メイク places that dresses people up to look like a geisha and takes your picture while we all went to Nijo-jo in the morning. I've been there three times now, heh. But Jason, Hayato, and Lennard hadn't been, and Tatsuya and I like it there, so... I certainly didn't mind, at least. Andrew met us outside the castle and accompanied us to lunch and one temple before splitting off to do some shopping (I don't blame him, we were in his "hood," after all, it's not as if he can't visit those things any weekend he wants, on his own schedule).
Ayako wandered off by herself again after lunch, and the rest of us headed towards Kiyomizu Dera, which really was a beautiful temple complex. I hope some of my pictures came out, but Hayato and Jason were both snapping like mad as well, so between us we should have some that turn out decently. Many お土産 were bought (including some for myself, hehe), and all in all, I'd count it a very successful day. Except that my feet HUUURRRRRTT. With more walking to look forward to tomorrow in Kobe. I'm going to get home from work on Tuesday night and just collapse.
Jason and I just finished watching Catch Me If You Can. Well, Ayako technically watched it with us, but she was asleep for the last half hour at least. Tatsuya didn't even make it all the way to coming in to watch the movie. Very nice people, but I think I really only have room in my affections for one person who can't stay up at night, and that slot would be claimed by Brandon. All the rest simply annoy me. Particularly when "at night" is defined to be "when the movie ends at a hair past midnight."
I had a single can of beer while watching the movie, and have selected a new slogan for Kirin Ichiban: "Smells like piss, tastes like Asahi!" (bowing) Thank you, thank you, crudity will make her next appearance after I get some sleep. Because while I may not be tired enough to sleep through a movie, my feet HUUUURRRRRTTTT.
I never noticed before that you can get hot canned coffee out of vending machines. It's really rather odd to be drinking out of a piping hot can. It also extends to hot canned cocoa, as I got this morning by accident... stupid fumbling fingers. I think I'll have to snag some actual coffee on my way out today to combat the sweetness overload I'm feeling at the moment.
How awesome. BS1 broadcasts the evening ABC news at 8:30 or 9 am here (I'm guessing it started at 8:30, which would put it being the US East Coast 6:30 news). I suppose I didn't know because before they were broadcasting baseball at that time, heh. Ah, Peter Jennings, how comforting you are.
Verdict on the end of their first day here: damn is it nice to see Jason. His friends Ayako and Tatsuya are supremely nice, and I don't overtly DISLIKE Lennard. Although if I had to spend more time listening to him mindlessly admiring Japanese women, I might start.
We met up down at the JR Osaka station this morning around 11, and spent all day wandering around Osaka. I've now seen Osaka castle, which was pretty, but I don't feel bad for not having gone before. We didn't even bother to go inside, seeing as it's one of the concrete reconstructed museum-interior ones. Visited an old old shrine in the middle of nowhere in Osaka, wandered around Shinsaibashi and generally played tourists. We had a few beers at dinner (delicous delicous お好み焼き, happy happy Jen), but given that we're getting up ass early to go to Kyoto tomorrow, we decided to save drinking any more until tomorrow night. Really, given that I have to get up ass early tomorrow, watching October Sky because I didn't end up doing so last night is probably a bad idea. Ah well.
I'd forgotten until he came on the screen that part of the reason I'd rented it was because Jake Gyllenhaal was in it. Heh. But overall, I'm pegging this is a perfect movie to have rented. Entertaining, inspiring, true, science-related story, Jake Gyllenhaal, and with only the barest vestiges of a love story that was such a tiny subplot that it took perhaps a total of three minutes of my time. Okay, they're throwing some in at the end, but I'll forgive them an extra 10 seconds. Reallly, it was so my kind of movie that I'm rather mystified how I didn't see it when it first came out.