Plans for the evening derailed by falling asleep around 9 pm with the lights and TV on and a book under my hand. Ah well. Sleep is good for you, I hear.
Hrm. Apparently they're going to start instituting a web page filter at work to keep the tardnuts who twice got viruses inside the firewall from doing it again. That's rather sucky... I'll still be able to lynx to stuff from Dante (heh), but I hope that AvantGo won't get all fucked up.
Reminder to self: tape London Hearts next Tuesday at 8 pm. I'm taping the last half of it today, but I'm strongly in favor of having several episodes. Although, hrm, I didn't think it was longer than an hour normally? Maybe specials madness is over all the shows this week as well as last.
The funny feeling in my throat this morning developed over the course of the day into a full blown, albeit minor yet, cold. Blah. Does it never end? If it's not one thing it's agoddamnednother. I bought some honey and a herbal tea mix pack last time that I was sick (my nearest grocery store doesn't have just mint or just lemon), so I've at least got something to soothe my throat without keeping me up all night.
I was going to stop by and get some cough drops or something on my way home, but I got sidetracked by foolishly going in Comme Ca first with money in my packet for once. I came out with about 300 yen and three new shirts (sigh). They ARE cute, as if that makes up for it. My store of long-sleeved shirts in Japan is now dangerously tilted towards red, though... I should wear them all in a row and have a regular blood-washed half week.
Parita, or Pari-chan as we are calling her in her absence (I am rather jealous, because I bet they weren't calling me Jen-chan before I came... but then, I don't look Japanese, blast their eyes), is coming for her first day in tomorrow. As if my Japanese hasn't gotten bad enough in the last three months, there's going to be someone else around who will speak NONE. Hooray. I'm thrilled.
Hrm. I just watched a commercial where a famous musician was supposed to be a dentist telling me what mouthwash was best for my teeth. In the US, we can sort of suspend our disbelief in the medical commercials... Sure, we KNOW that it's all actors, but since we don't recognize the person immediately, it COULD be a dentist, you never know. I just couldn't take the commercial seriously in the slightest.
About 30 minutes too late, it occurs to me that perhaps watching a creepy bloody movie by myself before bed was not the best of ideas. At least it's one with a sense of humor.
Random insomniac idea, modern chain letter; a rewritable CD, passed around my friends. Each person would remove some portion of the songs and replace them... Times like this, brain burblings in the spaces between rational thought, I miss Jim the most. Would that I could roll over and mumble an idea to his shoulder, let it flow in to the blender of his mind, and see what spin he'd put on it.
But circumstances are, as they say, as they are.
I took several of people this week, many of which are slightly blurry. But the blurry ones are marked, so avoid them if your eyes are hurting already.
September flew by. Having friends around every week will be so very missed... In some ways, I feel recharged for my next three months (I come back on the 20th of December... just under three months), and in some ways I feel cheated out of six months of life by being stuck in a country where people have such a very different attitude about becoming and being friends. I suppose it evens out. Sometime.
I just got home to find Masuda-san with a late birthday present - a completely tacky but quite hilarious Tigers t-shirt that says:
We did not give up!!
(snicker) The design is a bit much for me to wear except on weekends or something, but just HAVING it is what's worthwhile. ACHIEVERS!
Well, I think tonight's dinner solidified finally that I just really don't like daikon. It's just EXTRA not tasty. So let's do the Hooray For Haagen-Dazs dance! (boogie-ing) And with my Monday night TV having been co-opted by some specials this week, I think I'm going to go get a start on the books Erin brought me... in apology for the ridiculously long wrap-up I had a very boring day, so I feel no need to write anything, and The Count of Monte Cristo is calling my name.
Hooray for coming home at 6:30 am from clubbing! I'll write more after I get some sleep, but I wanted to scribble some notes to remind myself of what to say...
Everything about Erin and Dan's visit, of course. Sakase-san and the Aibo, Kojio-san and the egg, taking Stefan clubbing, convincing Jon to go clubbing by threatening to take Ai-chan anyway, hiding Ai-chan in the taxi, Markus thinking I was a lesbian (sigh) and ruminations on perceptions of tomboys, thoughts on Jon and Ai-chan, helping Marcus hit on the 16 year old girl dating the cute med school guy, dancing all night but not nearly long enough... That should be enough to prompt my memory "tomorrow."
Guh. The problem with drawing your curtains and going to sleep without an alarm on at 6:30 am, assuming that you'll wake up around 2 or 3, is that you might in fact wake up at 6:30 pm. Sigh. Narahara-san probably would have woken me up with his call around 2:30 if, you know, my phone hadn't been in the pocket of my jeans across the room. That one's really too bad, because given the timing I suspect he was going to see if l wanted to the airport with him to pick up Parita, which I really wanted to do... but on the other hand, if that's what he called about, it kind of pisses me off - they had plenty of chances to ask me if I wanted to come with them (Narahara-san and Ookubo-san) in the last few days at work, and nary a mention of it came about except as a brief joke on Monday, grumble. Anyway, I can only hope that my sleep schedule has been fucked enough the last few days that I'll be able to sleep around midnight despite this snafu; guess I'm not going shopping today after all, considering that I need to get laundry and things done.
(rolling up sleeves) Okay, here we go. Rolling back the clock to Wednesday, I have no idea what I did at work, but afterwards, I headed up to Ishibashi to meet Erin, her husband Dan, and their friend Andrew for dinner and drinking. That was the night Andrew and I learned from Dan how to order a half-again-pint-sized beer (daijokki), something that Andrew may put to use again after this week of debauchery, but I might better steer clear of out of a sense of self-protection for my sanity.
Oh yes, I meant to discuss Andrew a bit. So Andrew is a PhD student in Asian L&L at the UW, studying Sanskrit or Buddhist literature or something (I forget what his exact deal is). He just arrived in Japan a month ago, on a one year grant to work on his dissertation at Bukkyou Daigaku, the Buddhist university in Kyoto. The funny and somewhat puzzling part is that he doesn't speak Japanese, and his dissertation has absolutely nothing to do with Japan (he's working on a translation of an ancient Buddhist text from Afghanistan or something, in Sanskrit). He gets an office and a free apartment, doesn't have to teach classes or anything... the arrangement is really quite odd. But he's a good British guy, if about as opposite from Jon as you could perhaps find. He's one of those people you meet and it surprises you NOT AT ALL that he's a graduate student in some completely obscure field; I'm not sure if I envy him for being the sort of dedicated academic I wish I could be, or if I'm glad that I'll never be in his shoes... I think I lean slightly towards the former. The idea of having that sort of focus on a field, and having a tightly-knit group of academic friends to drink and play companionable cards with, is quite attractive. Too bad that I can't for the life of me think of what I might like to research... I'd never survive as a PhD. Anyway, I like Andrew quite a bit (in a purely friendly way, mind you... Jon is much cuter and more my style, hehe), and hopefully I can hang out with him some more in the next few months before I leave. He might go along to Himeji with Hayato and I next week, which would be fun.
But because he's living in Kyoto, quite far away from a train station and therefore reliant on the limited bus system, we were limited in the time we could spend in Ishibashi (Erin and Dan were going to be staying up in a guest apartment at Bukkyou Daigaku near his office). His last bus from his nearest Hankyu station left at 10:45, and it takes about an hour and a half to get to that station from the Toyonaka area (Ishibashi is two train stops north of me)... doing the math, we were looking at the Kyoto contingent needing to take their leave from me around 9 pm, a mere 2.5 hours after we met up. And so the drunken plan for me to skip work on Thursday and come up to Kyoto for the night was hatched.
And in a final decision, I approve of that plan, despite my guilt.
I can't remember if we played cards Wednesday night, but we definitely hung out in that ridiculously huge guest apartment and chatted and drank whiskey (after a vain attempt by me and Dan to find beer vending machines in the area surrounding the apartment... it turned out that we'd gone the wrong direction) for several hours after getting up to Kyoto.
On Thursday, we got up around 9, met up with Andrew around 10, and headed out for the day. It was POURING. I mean, we're talking the sky just opening up and dumping its contents on us. On the bright side, as Erin pointed out, if the weather was even half as bad down in Osaka, no one would suspect that I had skipped work to go sightseeing in that shit. Hah. The first stop was the local 99-yen shop to buy cheap umbrellas (my free one from Narahara-san finally bit the dust a few days ago, Andrew's was leaking, and Dan didn't have one) and experience firsthand the hideous looping jingle that Andrew had regaled us about the night before. It was indeed the most insanity-inducing song I've ever heard; we're at a loss as to how the people working there manage to not completely lose it within a day or two. We were all singing it at random times for the next few days, much to our collective horror.
Erin and I were craving Mr. D's and bad, but we were completely unable to find one between the 99-yen shop and Nijo-jo, starting a trend that would last for the next few days. We can't figure out if there's just not any in Kyoto, or what, but considering the amount of the city that we traversed that day, it was a travesty nonetheless. Being stuck in a major Japanese city completely sans Mister Donut is like being trapped in a Twilight Zone episode. At least when you're seriously jonesing for some tasty doughnuts. So we had to settle for a random cafe for brunch, which just wasn't the same. Going back to Nijo-jo was wonderful, though; we went inside the Ninomaru palace, which Dad and I had merely walked around before, and it was as beautiful as I'd thought it would be. I think I agree with Erin that Nijo-jo is one of my favorite sights in Japan... we'll have to see if Himeji-jo upsets it from the top spot next weekend.
Andrew jetted off from us around 2 pm to go to a Japanese class and get a call from his girlfriend in the States, and the remaining three monkeys decided to walk to Kawaramachi, downtown Kyoto. These monkeys misread the map, and walked north for 20 minutes before they realized that they should have walked south. At least the rain had stopped. Kawaramachi was, once we finally got there, a nice little area, bordered by Gion, the old geisha district, but it was also completely lacking in Mr. D's despite being full of every single other chain restaurant in Japan (including three Starbucks and a Tully's within a mile and a half of the stretch of Shijo-dori we were walking). Erin finally found the cookies she was searching for, and the three tired little monkeys headed back to the apartment to meet up with Andrew and get dinner. Cockroach notwithstanding, the okonomiyaki place we went to was outstanding, and the proprietor was properly amused when I was prodded to go up and ask her where there were some beer vending machines in the neighborhood. After we'd already gone through two daijokki apiece, mind you.
While we were following her directions to a liquor store, we checked the bus schedules at the stop to see what time I'd have to take off to get to Osaka, which is when we discovered that the last bus was at 9:34 (at that point, in 20 minutes) and I decided I'd rather hang out that night and play cards again than go home, heh. Much bridge was played and several more beers were consumed (and some whiskey), and I think I have not had a more excellent Thursday in months.
I think I forgot to say, when I was scribbling on Sayuri on my commute from Kyoto that morning, that my shower on Friday morning was a cold one due to the fact that in that crazy apartment you have to turn on the hot water for the shower from a switch in the kitchen. Which makes perfect sense, of course. Friday at work was uneventful, except for me confessing to Jon where I'd been the day before and having him laugh at me all day. I took off quickly after work (which was hard, because Jon and I were joking around and chatting for the last few minutes) to meet up with Erin and cohort and Hayato in Umeda. We came up to Toyonaka to eat dinner and drink a bit, and at some point we decided that I'd go back up to Kyoto with them again, heh. As before, we had to jet around 9 to make the buses in Kyoto, which was too bad, considering we had to bid goodbye to Hayato far too soon. And I probably don't have to say that we played a lot of cards and drank a lot more that night. My poor liver. I called it quits at a bit past 5:30 am after I noticed that I was starting to try to sleep through tricks of spades, heh. I am sad that I missed the experimentation with the toilet that revealed the secrets of the high-tech bidet, though. It involves an extending probe.
We hauled ourselves out of bed around noonish, and sat around for an hour or two taking extra long times to contemplate our day (hey, our bodies had to catch up with our activities sometime). Erin and Dan were flying out from the Kansai airport in Osaka at 9 that night, and none of us felt up to doing anything much more than complain about wanting hashbrowns, so we contented ourselves with going out for lunch (sadly, not featuring hashbrowns, and Dan's accidental order of kimchee ramen was momentarily horrifying).
I was supposed to be back at my dorm at 5:30 to go with Stefan to the party at Jon's dorm in Ibaraki-shi, so I bid my very sad farewells (well, sad for me... THEY were going home to friends while I was back to having months of loneliness) to catch a bus around 3:40. This would have been perfect timing, if I hadn't been trapped across the street when the bus came by. The next bus came at a little bit before 4, and thus I was hurrying up the street in Toyonaka, 15 minutes late, when I ran into Stefan leaving without me (which I had totally expected he would do... if he'd had a cell, I would have called him and just told him to meet me at the station). My feelings about going to the party were mixed, considering that Markus and Jon were both not supposed to be going and I was somewhat feeling the effects of three days hard drinking. But the Ibaraki-shi dorm is the one where most of the people who I work with live who are in dorms, including Iwahara-san and Nishihara-san, so I bucked up my strength and went.
Imagine my surprise when we walked in and there was Markus (surrounded by a bevy of girls, natch). Kojio-san also made an appearance, which made me very happy... I found out later that he's married, which totally surprised me. Damn! Heh. Nishihara-san didn't come (damn, mark II), but Iwahara-san, Fujisawa-san, and Ookubo-san were in attendance, so I had fun hopping from friend to friend, snacking and sipping beer. Marcus and I made plans to go out dancing after the party, and things were good.
Sakase-san, the weird Japanese intern on my team, won the Aibo they were giving away at bingo at the party. I was SO pissed! Bah humbug! If just about anyone else in my group had gotten it, I was gambling I could wheedle it out of them, heh, but Sakase-san is a lost cause in that respect. Not to mention that I don't want to wheedle him in the first place. Sigh. But watching Kojio-san break a raw egg on someone's face as part of another game a bit later made up for it all (giggling). He'd been so sure that that egg was the raw one (as opposed to all the hardboiled ones), and had jumped at the chance to break it on the other guy, who was some friend of his. But when it actually turned out to be the raw one and burst all over everywhere, the look on his face was priceless. I still think it was about the stupidest game I've ever watched played, but that moment was completely worth it.
And then everything got better as I spotted Jon and Ai-chan coming in the door. He'd told me on Friday that he wasn't coming because he'd be doing something with Ai-chan, and I'd told him to just bring her along, because that way he'd get to come and I could see her. Okay, I like Ai-chan and all that, but I seriously doubt that anyone reading this honestly thinks that my motives were what I said they were. I'm a bad girl, we all know this. Move on.
Anyway, I ran over to them, delighted, and Ai-chan and I started talking up a storm. I really DO like talking to her... she's much more down to earth than 99% of Japanese girls and for some reason she's one of the people with whom my Japanese just flows. She asked me if Markus and I were heading out afterwards, to which I responded with something like "yes, we are, and you two are coming with us, right, right?!?" Now, at this point, I got basically the exact opposite answer that I expected. She pouted a bit and said that she wanted to, but that Jon had to WORK on Sunday, so that was that. I immediately insisted that she come along with us anyway, which didn't take too long to convince her of, and then, then the evil glint came into my eye. By our powers combined, I was sure, Jon could be convinced to come along despite having work on the morrow. Bluntly, I didn't think I'd need her help... I am a MASTER of convincing when properly motivated, and getting Jon to come along clubbing is excellent motivation. But having her in on the deal would lend a patina of appropriateness to the whole thing. What were we saying about me being a bad girl? Erin doesn't claim that I am the evil twin for nothing.
Several minutes of an intense blend of Jen charm and logic later (during which both Markus and Ai-chan expressed utter amazement of my powers of negotiation), mission was accomplished. Eeeeexxxxxcellent. Bwahahahahaha!
Hrm, back to the present for a moment. Having noticed a blister from hell on my foot, I'm torn about the idea of going jogging tonight. Here, I'll go tomorrow after Smap Smap and instead take a walk down to WP tonight to rent a movie to help with the going to sleep in a few hours. Sigh. I figure I'll get some movies, come back and finish this, work on my letter to Jeff (maybe), take a bath, and get in bed around 12:30 or 1 with a movie on. I MIGHT be asleep by 3 or 4. Hooray for getting up at 6:15 tomorrow!
I wore my denim jacket down to the store and was glad of it; it's so nice to have it getting cooler finally. I was mightily tempted at the store by 8 Mile and Catch Me if You Can, but considering that both were 2-day rentals only and each cost 500 yen, I backed slowly away from the new releases shelf and instead picked up Ravenous (I'll FINALLY get to watch it, Seth must be informed) and The Magnificent Seven (which I've never seen, and will be the offering for tonight). So anyway, back to the long winded wrapup of Saturday.
Where was I? Oh yes. Having convinced Jon to come along with us, we decided to stay at Ibaraki for a while and continue to get free beer, heh. The party shifted over to a lounge room of which I was really jealous (it's the room I was hoping to see in my dorm, rather than the TV here being in front of the tables in the cafeteria), where Jon and I started to get into an interesting discussion of world politics before I noticed the extremely bored look on Ai-chan's face and headed things back into safely broad-appeal topics. Another reason to hang out with him outside of work without her sometime... it's been a while since I had a chance to have a deep discussion with someone that wasn't over email.
We took the last train into Umeda, which had one problem. It got into downtown after the subways stopped running, meaning we had to take a taxi to get to Shinsaibashi, and taxis in Japan aren't supposed to take more than four people (Stefan, Markus, Ai-chan, Jon, and I made five). We decided to try to pull it off anyway by sending in imposing Marcus as our headman and pretending to not speak Japanese - Ai-chan was supposed to be Korean for the next fifteen minutes, heh. The first one we walked towards hurriedly waved us off before we could get close enough to try our act. The second one waited until we got in the car before refusing to go anywhere despite our very loud pleas in English, hehe. But the third one, we were sneaky. Marcus went ahead of us and blocked the driver's view of us clearly while he asked if we could get a ride. And then while he got in front, talking to hold the driver's attention, we all tumbled into the back in some mad clown car action, and Ai-chan hid behind the driver's seat at my feet (giggling). The driver was on the phone when we were whirling in, and she was outside of his view the entire time... we conversed in English for the whole ride, and avoided looking in poor Ai-chan's direction as I petted her shoulder comfortingly. When we got to Shinsaibashi, we pulled another clown car style exit, and we're pretty sure he never really realized that he had an extra passenger (although once he started driving, he probably wouldn't have kicked us out if he'd noticed her). That was really silly, but fun.
We headed to the Pig & Whistle to get a drink before going to the Under Lounge, which is where the conversation about me being a tomboy started. Apparently, when you try to explain the concept of a tomboy to non-Brits or non-Americans, they think you're talking about a dyke (covering face). I found out that several people at work had labored under that impression for a month or so until Jon set them straight, and we didn't realize that Markus had misunderstood in the same way until a few hours later at the club, when he pulled me aside to ask me if a tomboy has any desire for men (he really did phrase it like that too, which gave me a good laugh). I spent some time at various points that night explaining that I dress the way I do because it's comfortable and I'd rather have someone appreciate me for my mind and my wit and later find out how sexy I can be than have them like me for my body and my clothes and then not be able to handle my mad brainz. I don't think Marcus was convinced, but you know what? I don't care. I don't dress like shit, I just don't dress like a tramp, and I'm at one with that. It's the same thing about how I'd never get contacts even though people think I look better without my glasses on. I refuse to put other people's opinions of my looks over my own sense of comfort (and the idea of putting in contacts is WAYYYYY beyond my sense of comfort).
The club was fun and the music was better than at Sam & Dave's the other week (it was house rather than r&b-pop-dance), but most of all, I didn't have to fend off a scary man this time, heh. I spent most of the time dancing with Ai-chan. Markus was often across the floor dancing up some girl (or two... or three...), I didn't really want to dance with Stefan (who I don't think was very comfortable with the whole club thing anyway), and it's just not appropriate to dance with Jon, particularly with his girlfriend right there. We had him giving the pair of us some quite dirty looks over the course of the night, which was about what I can ask for in life at the moment, I think. Even if he was mostly joking, it was still alternately amusing and gratifying, for reasons pertaining both to my self-esteem and just to the fact that it's SO nice to have a friend who's comfortable making those sorts of jokes with me. Although the whole dancing with Ai-chan thing probably did me no good in convincing Marcus that I'm not a lesbian, hah.
I was going to talk a bit about Jon and Ai-chan, but I think I'll leave that, and more elaboration on the night, aside for the moment. It's 11:15 and I think if I say that I had a good night, that's a good place to end the update from long-winded hell.
Well, here I am on Friday, in Kyoto still, waiting for the first bus towards the Hankyu station. I'm crazy. But staying in Kyoto last night to play drunken bridge (and I will vouch now that after many years of pinochle, drunk is NOT the time to try to relearn bridge bidding) seemed much more fun than anything I could have possibly done in Toyonaka last night. Ignore the fact that I'm wearing convenience store underwear. Doing so simply makes me cool. Or at least makes Erin cool for coming up with the idea...
I'm cutting it close; the first bus wasn't until 6:20 (barbaric country - the last bus last night was at 9:34, which played an integral part in the decision to just stay in Kyoto until the morning), and I judge it'll take about 2 hours, if not longer, to get into work. I wouldn't be fretting if I knew I had enough money to get to Juuso, but I think I will likely have to wander around Omiya looking for a Sumitomo ATM (disaster averted by being only 20 yen short and begging a nearby boy for it).
Oh good lord, Narahara-san just called to see if I was feeling better and if I wanted a ride to work. I told him that I had an errand to run in Umeda (it was the first thing that popped into my mind), and he was like, "at 7 something in the morning?" Perhaps I'll tell him that I had to meet Erin and Dan before they flew out? He doesn't know they don't leave until Saturday, but depending on how good the pickup on my phone is, he almost certainly knows I was on a bus when he called. No, I'm not suspicious at all. At least saying I had an errand somewhat covers me if I'm a little late... Sigh.
I am feeling some SERIOUS guilt about skipping off work yesterday. If it had been in some noble cause (well, more noble than skipping off to Kyoto for a day), that'd be one thing. And if I knew I'd be at work on time, that would also "be one thing." Flibberdygarble. It really is all about the likelihood that I'll get caught, of course. Please god, let no one from work get on this train (just going past near where one of the other Sumitomo dorms is).
It smells stale on this train. Exactly how the frats smelled when I was a child, on breaks when they would all go home and Bryce and I would sneak in their windows and creep around their rooms.
After looking through my logs again as a lunchtime distraction, I'm seriously thinking about putting a counter on this page. Not to count hits to here, or anything... no, it'd be a counter of how many times in the last day people used the pair of terms "Japanese" and "schoolgirl" in Google to find my site. I was looking at some of the more random refers, as well, and even tried a few to see how far up whichever page of mine was up in the search results. When you're searching for inspirational team-building phrases, and one of my thoughts pages shows up on the third page of Google results, what prompts you to actually click on that link? I really just don't quite get it. Although it does provide me with great amusement, so I shouldn't complain.
Yay insomnia. First I lay awake from 12 to 1, thinking about Winlock. And then the itching started. I got up around 1:45 to run cold water over my feet, which helped (although I hope that the 4 or 5 hours that cream was on them was enough, considering that I washed them off but good), but I still wasn't able to sleep until after 2:45 or so. Hooray. I'm currently running on that adrenaline buzz I get occasionally on less than 4 hours of sleep, but it won't carry me far at work...
I am not yet but soon will be (in about 5 or 6 hours) in the process of totally blowing off work in the most irresponsible fashion. I emailed Yoshiyuki's work account a few hours ago with some lame excuse about needing a rest (it seemed like a good idea at the drunken time) and am currently up in Kyoto with Erin and Dan. Man, am I going to get it on Friday. My only hope is that Yoshiyuki actually believes I'm somewhat sick and forgives my random Thursday off day (crossing fingers). And that no one calls my dorm and finds out that I'm not there, EEP!
But scribbling on Sayuri is seeming extra annoying, and I'm sleepy as all hell, so I guess the rest of my Fantastically Interesting Day can wait until tomorrow night.
(shaking head) The plan WAS to get up around 8 or 8:30, and have a nice leisurely morning of running errands. THREE DAMN HOURS of hitting the snooze button later... The first hour's worth was actually folded into a dream I was having where I was removing each of my toes every ten minutes and doing something with them.
Eww. Slimy toes are bad enough. Convincing yourself to put socks on over slimy toes is worse.
First attempt to find a chill coffeeshop to hang out in when Mr. D's doesn't appeal: failed. Coffee Eagle Rest, across the street from home, is more a diner/cafe place with the TV on than a coffeeshop with music. Although they DO serve coffee floats, which is pretty damn cool. I figured I'd start close to my dorm and spiral out; the search should entertain me over the next month or so, although I doubt I'll find the sort of thing I'm looking for outside of downtown and even then, it might be that Starbucks, SBC, and Tully's have a lock on the closest thing to the sort of place I'm looking for in Japan. Unless Erin, who THEORETICALLY will be calling me in the next hour or so, has another suggestion, next try is that Coffee&Sand place by Senrigawa. I actually don't mind if it's not got the "right" ambience, or if they just serve eight variations on drip coffee as Japanese coffeeshops are wont to do, but I do require either that the place play (decent) music, or be quiet so that I can listen to headphones and not appear rude. I still might sound overly picky, but damnit, if I'm going to pay around 4 dollars for a cup of fancy drip coffee, then I feel entitled to have at least a little of the atmosphere I crave.
Back at home (I couldn't stay at Coffee Eagle Rest past finishing my coffee... it just wasn't the right sort of place), I really should do something productive, like study Japanese... but I just don't feel like it, so there. I don't have anything to read other than manga, which I may read later, but not now... So instead I'll listen to St. Germain and play Puzzle Fighter, and wait for Erin's THEORETICAL call.
My mission when I get home: obtain more acid jazz (or whatever the genre is called these days) when I get home. Actually, that's my second mission. First mission is to get a huge fucking harddrive and rip all of my CDs onto it. I've been missing out on so much good music I own over the last few years because it's not been on Chiyo and I'm too lazy to load CDs into a player.
A random snatch of a dream from last night that surfaced while I walked to the station: I was walking in the evening along a street near Lake Washington with a girl whose aspect I can't recall (or couldn't see?) and an attractive, clean-cut boy with light brown hair. His face is unfamiliar in my memory, yet I can't shake the feeling that he was meant to be someone I know. We turned into a parking lot with a view of the lake to see a couple making out under a streetlight, and the boy commented, "you Americans kiss too heavily; there's no grace to it." The other girl and I turned to him amusedly. "Well, how do YOU kiss?" she asked, a flirtatious note in her voice and an arch in her brow. In response, he took my wrist, drew me to him, and kissed me lightly, almost nibbling, very much like Josh used to. We stood there for some time, his right hand twined gently in my hair and his left arm encircling my waist, before I let my hands slip from his face and pulled away with a deep breath. I looked around for our companion, and saw her storming away across the parking lot.
I met up with Erin for a bit this afternoon, but it really was a"bit"... her husband dragooned her along to some teacher event, so we only hung out for about an hour. She did finally get me to go up to the shopping area up at Senrichou, which was good because I located a shop where I will go back on the weekend to buy Jeffie a shirt, hehe. But tomorrow we'll go out to dinner, and it shall be good. Tonight? I was originally intending on either eating with Erin and her husband or going downtown to find the Mexican restaurant in Umeda, but the closer I got to home (I took the bus! I so brave), I just didn't feel like going to the effort of heading to Ze City, so I just stopped off to get some bread and came home to fix myself a peanut butter sandwich and vegetate. That silly werewolf show is on, and then I shall watch the tail end of the Tigers game, and then I shall watch my street samurai movie, and then I shall go to bed, and all shall be good.
I taped the last three innings of the game, but I'll need to snag one where I actually get the full 7th inning balloon thing on tape, instead of just the end of it, and one where they show someone with that gigantic flag-made-out-of-American-flags for Arias. Not to mention that one where we WIN would be nice.
The sound in this movie is totally bizarre. I swear they filmed it and then redubbed all the dialogue. But not only does it have guns and swords, it's also got undead zombie things (also with guns), so I totally forgive it. And the cinematography reminds me of Army of Darkness, which makes me laugh. I shall have to see if Scarecrow has it when I get home; Seth should see it. Even though I really can't tell, an hour in, if it actually has a plot or not, heh. As a movie, I think it was just an excuse to spray blood over everything and have undead running around oozing stuff.
Nice one. You know what always works against an opponent who just caught the bullet you shot at him? Charging him. Totally works.
Here I am on my weird Monday before a Tuesday holiday. At work without breakfast because to celebrate the stupid one-day miniweek, the dorm decided to go for a set meal this morning, starring fish. I've gotten used to eating fish at night, even liking it... but I draw the line at having it for breakfast. There are a scant two new pictures, both of which are very boring except to me, so I don't recommend them. Yet I feel obligated to put the link up. Go figure.
(snickering) My pages come up as the second link in Google when you search for the words "winamp porn visualizers." How cool is that?
My god, the sides of my feet itch so badly I want to SCREAM. I've had athlete's foot before, and it's always cropped up between my smaller toes, and this time it's on the external sides of both my big toes... But that's got to be what it is. Either that or my feet are spontaneously rotting off, which, while not entirely without its charms, would really upset me. And I'm stuck at work for another two and a half hours, with the topical stuff I'd had in my backback all last week at home because sneaky sneaky feet had stopped itching like four days ago... AAAAUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH. I love giving myself welts rubbing at my toes, that's the goddamn best.
Ewwww slimy toesies. I know creams are good for things like skin issues, but that doesn't mean I have to LIKE using them. The pharmacist seemed pleased that I knew how to ask for what I wanted in Japanese, though, which was a light in an otherwise rather cranky day.
I'm taping the 400th episode extravaganza Hey! Hey! Hey!, although I think I'll have to tape at least one more episode in the next couple months to give the TRUE Hey! Hey! Hey! feeling to people. There's not nearly enough hitting of heads going on in this. I'm also wondering if it actually started at 7, given that they were talking to Morning Musume when I started taping at 8, but they haven't performed while I was watching. It'd be a shame to have missed recording those twits for my friends. Bah, I did miss them. And Smap Smap is that mountain climbing special tonight, sigh. I'll go ahead and tape it, and chalk it up to things to entertain me when I'm berefit of Japanese TV once more.
I wonder, is it hypocritical of me to have shifted so far in the direction of the need to vote? Given that I was so intentionally politically ignorant, for reasons I can't really come up with anymore? Perhaps because I admit fully that I was being retarded, the whole thing is not hypocritical after all, but I'm not entirely convinced (I think I put too much weight, after thinking about that statement some more, on sticking to one's convictions, even one's completely stupid convictions). Reading about politics nearly daily has me batting myself about the head on a constant basis, though, so hypocritical or not, I officially repent. I haven't settled on a candidate that I particularly want to vote for above the rest, but at this point, I'd nearly vote for a giraffe as long as it meant the giraffe would be replacing the man at the helm of my country. Rage at the president is a dangerous thing to base my vote on, perhaps, but... well... damnit... I'm MAD.
I was distracted from TV by my pomegranate tonight. Yes, pomegranate. If it were Seattle, I'd think the season was a bit early, but who knows how things work on the other side of the world. It was expensive, of course, but it was good... not as ripe as it could have been, but lacking the multitude of brown spots that the ones we get in Seattle usually have. There is no fruit that I enjoy as much as a pomegranate; the soothing nothingness of peeling out the seeds appeals to my quiet, organized side, and I can let everything else float away, reducing my world to yellow rind and bright red seeds. I patiently plucked seeds out, and I again thought of Mark, and the night I arrived at his house to find that he'd shucked two pomegranates for us to have. The memory of the effort that went into that token of affection is one of the reasons, perhaps, that I've never really released him from my heart. There was a man who knew how to make someone feel cherished, on a daily and on a minute-to-minute basis. Sigh.
The dreaming continues; waking up at 6:45 (itchy leg) brings me showing Andy around Osaka and Jon telling me how to use the Osaka subway system to get to Lake City. The problem with dreaming, at least in the intense way that I'm prone to do, is that you wake up from it feeling as if you've never actually slept at all. Here's to getting back to it...
A good morning. Waking up to my alarm at 9:30, feeling not the slightest bit tired despite having woken up earlier, with the smell of rain drifting around my room (it's been cool enough the last few days that I've been leaving my window open to circulate the air in here) and the Mariners on TV beating the pants off of Oakland... a good morning indeed. Would have been better if Ichiro had made that catch, but I'll forgive him.
Putting lotion on my dry forehead this morning, I suddenly remembered another morning like this one, several years ago. I had put on some lotion in the morning, the summer that I was having office hours in the ADP, and Phil told me that afternoon, "Jen, you smell like a girl today." I wonder whatever happened to him...
On the one hand, it was a pleasant surprise to have Superunknown run out where I couldn't change the CD, turn to the radio, and find Jimi singing All Along The Watchtower. On the other, it hurts a Seattle rock fan's soul to hear the announcer refer to him as "Jay-mee Hayduricksu." What the hell? His name is REALLY not that hard to pronounce in Japanese, and where did the "n" in "Hendrix" go? No, the DJs here are simply idiots.
GawdDAMNIT. I swear, dinners like tonight are what make me damn glad I keep a stock of desserts in my room. A fudge bar can't do everything to erase the memory of what I choked down in the past 20 minutes, but it can go a decently long way (spitting). Perfectly good food, fucked out of recognizability. Okra! Okra, for god's sake! But cut up with corn in some sort of sticky, stringy, colorless jelly that tasted like CRAP. Some sort of decent white fish that had an flank of weird flesh that reminded me of nothing so much as nasty nasty sea urchin and spoiled the taste of the entire cut. A raw egg dish that looked like clotted snot and tasted worse. Even the soup, usually the saving grace, had huge chunks of mushrooms in it. I've gotten very good about eating mushrooms in the last year or two, but when everything else is disgusting, they really REALLY don't help. Bleah. Sunday is usually a GOOD food night... I can only hope that Monday's usual swill is replaced by the food that I should have been relishing tonight.
Senor Dammen took me to task today for talking so much about food. I hadn't really noticed it before, but he's right, I do talk about it a ridiculous amount. I chalk it up to three years of dating Jim, knowing his mom, and being friends with Ryan and Brandon. Food is good to talk about... I guess I just forgot that only other people interested in food like to hear about it.
I went out to see Zatouichi with Kuni and Hayato today. A quite decent samurai flick, with lots of the blood and gore that I was expecting and craving. I understood enough of the dialog to match what I saw with an understanding of the overall plot, which was nice, although really not that necessary in a movie whose primary goal is to fill the screen with flying body parts. I do rather want to buy the soundtrack, though, if only for the music they played in the closing sequence.
On tonight's installment of Things That Depress Jen: going to see a movie that has a commercial for Lord of the Rings goods, and trailers for Last Samurai and Matrix: Revolutions, and realizing that the boys on either side of her are not in the slightest enthused about any of it. (covering face) Hayato told me that he never went to see Reloaded, because he hadn't understood The Matrix. Not that Reloaded was a great movie, or anything, but to hear one of your sub-culture's appreciated movies swept aside so blithely... it makes you long for your fellow freaks and geeks and nerds.
Ooooh, the running doesn't help with the itchies, no no no.
When I set my alarm last night to go off at 2 pm today, I really did think it was a remote contigency that I'd need it. I was closing my eyes around 12:30 pm, after all... but I ended up snoozing at least twice and then only got up because I needed to bad. It's been over a month, and maybe over two, since I got to sleep myself out into the afternoon on a weekend.
I really shouldn't watching a program on major league baseball. I've been dreadfully homesick (more than usual, hah) since seeing Andrew two weeks ago, and I almost think it'd be better to cut myself to totally off from Americana for a while to force myself back into Japan-mode. Although it is pretty funny to watch Japanese commentary on Pinella's tantrums.
I dreamt all last night about people from home. I dreamt that Craig came to visit me, that I was able to go to Chris's wedding, that Jeff wrote me all about his new girlfriend, that I went out for Italian food with Kate and Ryan. Funny that just as I should be ruminating on my dreams and homesickness, interviewers on the show I'm watching are talking with a Japanese girl who spent a year abroad in Washington who says that she fended off homesickness by talking about Ichiro with people. I bet SHE was actually able to make friends, grumble. I wonder if it's a permanent defect in my personality, that I A) can't handle myself without a well developed social network and B) can't seem to develop one in Japan? Bleah.
That's it, I'm heading out. I hereby declare the rest of the day to go as follows. I will go to Mr. D and enjoy a delicious curry doughnut. Then, I will go and get something that is capable of melting Rotel and Velveeta at the 100 yen shop by the station, then I will go downtown and buy lots of random crap that I don't need but the buying of which will make me feel better. Then, I will come home, make Rotel, and watch one of the two movies I rented last night (Blade II and some street samurai movie called Versus... I'm avoiding romantic movies like the plague). And it shall be a good day, damnit. And I will wear my boots, because it is raining, and I will armor myself in the sense of being able to kick any fucking Japanese assholes I meet today into ther next lifetimes. How amusing that on this day, I would be on Sisters of Mercy and the Six Feet Under soundtrack.
As I stormed towards the station today, clothed in charcoal grey and black and silver, I took comfort in the misty tendrils of hatred that curled around me, and I remembered. I reached deep down, and drew another me out of storage; a me that didn't have the past three years of happiness, a me that had yet to decide to be as "normal" as possible, a me that wallowed in pools of anger and liked it. Ironically, she is largely the me that Jim first fell for, although she had begun receding in waves that came and went for some years before that. But this afternoon I drew her out, reveled in her cold enjoyment of my dark mood, and thought that while she may have kept a low profile for a long time, she is the me that refuses to let my depression slip away.
Oooooh, feel the petty anger as the guy at Mr. D's goes around to refill everyone else's coffee before mine (and no, I'm not sitting in a corner), runs out, and goes back to working the counter, me left with an empty cup. I tell you, living here for a while gives a privledged white girl an appreciation for the civil rights movement in the US that she just can't pick up in school or normal life at home. But slightly remedied, as the cute boy who I swear must be half (he took my order in flawless polite Japanese, but the only things that look Japanese about him are his jet black Japanese hair and his name tag with a Japanese last name) looks over, scowls slightly, and heads straight towards me with a full pot. And asks me "sugar and milk?" in English with a perfectly normal "L." If it weren't so crazily busy in here, I might ask him where his parents were from, but instead, I'll sip my coffee, continue writing postcards, and keep my head down.
Blarg and bah humbug. I finally found the perfect shirt for Jeff, and the largest one they had was on the small side of a US medium. Sigh.
I have been content today. To have decided to turn myself over to the darker me is a relief, a submission. She holds me in her arms, my cheek pressed against her collarbone and her chin resting on my head, my eyes closed as she strokes my back softly and turns an icy glare on the world wailing outside. Certainly not to say that all is gloom and doom; rather, I've returned to a more defended me.
I'd nearly forgotten how good it feels to walk home at night with music in my ears and raindrops speckling my glasses. The stride I settle into when I wear my boots lends itself especially well to a sort of dancing, swaggering walk, a dance that could both crush any opposition in my path and lift me up into a dark sky, arms uplifted.
How strange, to be idly listening to Soundgarden at 10 pm and suddenly remember that you dreamt last night of reading Michael Moore's obituary. Strange that I dreamt it in the first place, but why did my mind pick this particular moment to dredge up the memory of doing so?
(Written over the course of two hours, in fits and spurts) DUDE! It's the goddamned Cat from Red Dwarf! What the FUCK is Danny John Jules doing in fucking Blade II? The movie is exactly what I want. Blood and mayhem and acrobatics... the only thing lacking is some good pumping techno, and I give it the next 30 minutes to come up with that before I get really disappointed. And Ron Perlman? What other actors that I totally don't expect will pop up? It's like Christmas! I do want to know who's playing the scraggly kid... the one I lay five bucks is the mole. I swear I've seen him before, but it's just not coming to me. Ah, there's the techno. Not good, but I'll take it. If I wasn't meeting Hayato tomorrow morning to go to a movie, I'd be halfway to Umeda by now... This movie would actually be sort of decent if they stripped out all the ridiculous technobabble. And every single one of the female lead's lines. Actually, if they just removed every single bit of dialogue, it'd be damn good. Hehe. "Bloooooddddddd." They could leave that line in, though. Jesus Christ, it was fucking Norman Reedus. How that boy can look so good when he's so dirty, not to mention cursed with a name like "Norman," I have no idea. Luck o' the goddamn Irish...
I suspect that several people who read this don't read the news, so here's some things for you to wonder at... Jen actually posting links to some other place? Marvel. The links are kind of random because I found references to the events in things that didn't have links, and just spent enough time to find the first news story or two that had the relevant quotes. Sorry, I'm lazy.
Maybe now the rest of my country will wake up and realize that they've been taken for a run? And still are, with corrections being slipped in in the most unobtrusive of places? A goddamn radio talk show? Naw, I doubt it. Why must the majority of Americans be so fucking DUMB? ARRRGGGGGGHHHH.
I'm typing this at home, but on a full-size keyboard (well, more full-size than Sayuri's) in Japanese layout. That's right, I brought my laptop home for the weekend. Not nearly as useful as it could be, given that I don't have an Internet connection here, but I'll be damned if I let a perfectly good mobile computer languish on my desk for four straight months. Anyway, if I was going to be connecting it to the Internet, I'd have to sign a bunch more forms than the one I had to stamp...
(laughing) I just caught myself trying to tap the screen with the back of my fingernail (twice!) to select a word. I never do that at work... I guess it's a habit I associate with writing in this at home.
...stamp today. Although it seemed kind of weird and a hassle to have to fill out paperwork to take my own damn computer home, at least I got to actually use my inkan, which was kind of spiffy. The whole inkan/hanko dealio confuses me a little bit (why is a piece of wood carved with my name necessarily more representative of me than a signature?), but delights me nonetheless. I almost feel that we should introduce (reintroduce? Did we bring that over from England when we came, and if so when did it die away?) the use of seals and signets in the US, even if purely for coolness.
So what will I do with my computer while I have it this weekend? Largely boring things. I'll write up my monthly report (which currently lies as several scribbles of added sentences on a printout of last month's) so that I can have it lying on Yoshiyuki's desk in the morning on Monday to be looked over before being turned in officially. I was originally intending to have it be done by the end of today so that I could give it to him before the weekend, but he unexpectedly took off an hour or two early (I'm really not sure exactly when he left), which rather shot down that plan. If I have an entire afternoon of free time, I'll work some on my scripts, which was my official reason for bringing - hrm... my computer has no name, and no, OPC85144 or whatever it is doesn't count... I hereby christen her Kasumi - Kasumi home in the first place. We'll see how that goes. I still haven't settled down on those postcards, and while my room is slightly cleaner than it was a few days ago, I need to buckle down and just clean in one fell swoop. Not to mention that the Hanshin Department Store is having sales for the next week to celebrate their team snagging the division championship, and I'd like to go and nose around. I stuck my head in with Kuni and Hayato tonight, but didn't want to drag them through the women's sections. I could probably waste a good hour or two fighting the crowds in there, and the boys invited me to go to a movie on Sunday... for a weekend that's supposed to be my vacation from the past two weekends, I'm turning out to have more to do than I thought. But that's good, as being busy keeps me happy, as opposed to being gloomy and mopey all the time. I managed to keep busy with work all day today, and oh look, I was only depressed during lunch and on the train afterwards. The glories of distractions.
I met up with Hayato and Kuni after work to get ramen and wander around town a bit. It was, I admit, the first time I've ever gotten around to going out to eat ramen in Japan... ever. My host mother made some at least once or twice when I was up in Hakodate, but that, Top Ramen, and Cup o'Noodles was about the limit of my experience. With Cup o'Noodles as my reference, is it any wonder that I always just kind of nodded when Brian would wax eloquent about ramen? Not that I doubted him, mind you, as I can vouch that his taste in food is generally quite acceptable; I just didn't know what the hell he was talking about, really. But now I do, and it was tasty and delicious and cheap (gotta love the cheap). I should remember, when I head up to Tokyo in November, to ask him if he'll take me to get some. Heh. Get some.
We meandered through Namba and Shinsaibashi a little bit, and came into Umeda and wandered some more, but all three of us were so tired that we couldn't get up the energy to actually do anything. They would have gone to karaoke, but I apparently de facto vetoed that plan when I shrugged and said if they did so, I'd probably head home. I didn't really mean for them to take that as a command to think of something else, but I think they did. Whoops. I really would have been just fine going home... my backpack was heavy as fuck and I'm still feeling the exhaustion. Speaking of which, I've been typing with my eyes closed for several minutes now (I open them very very occasionally to check my punctuation), and I really think that I should rotate my body 90 degrees to the right and fall asleep. Or at least play Puzzle Fighter in the dark until I can't concentrate any more. Having that GBA is going to be the death of me, I swear.
Holy shit, there's my remote! I lean over to set down Kasumi, and notice it under my goddamn endtableyshelfthing. How the hell did it get under there? Gnomes? Gnomes.
Blech, today is definitely not a day when I should have skipped a shower. But tell that to the me that picks up the phone when the alarm starts going off at 5:45...
(giggling) Okay, middle of work interlude... I now feel not nearly so bad about my completely surreptitious screwing around at work. I just walked past Shimura-san, whose rowmates had all disappeared somewhere, and noticed that he was sitting in his chair apparently examining some diagrams in a very serious manner. A very serious dead asleep manner.
Late night tonight... I caught a ride home at around 8:15 pm with Narahara-san. Blah. He teased me about actually doing work today, said it was a rare thing. It's not exactly true, but close enough. Of course, if I actually had some direction from above about what the fuck I was supposed to be doing, I wouldn't get so frustrated and bored all the time. Anyone's fault but mine, sigh.
I'm too tired to be cheery. I've been totally out of it for the last two or three days, and it's really starting to annoy me. In a distant sort of way that I'm too tired to pay much attention to. I'm extremely "blah" today, can we tell? I programmed all afternoon today, working on my script to parse the files full of junk that Insights spits out... Well, the parsing stuff got finished two days ago, but I've been working on having it be a lot more autonomous, and smarter about what it's doing, and coding in all the user interaction bits. The only thing keeping me going at work lately is the hope that someday someone else will be able to use my stupid little VBA tools to handle stupid stupid Insights data. Blah again. I'll go back to modelling, new things, on Monday. Spend a couple of weeks on the CoP gathering data, and then come back and see if my scripts still work. Heh?
I was going to go running tonight while my clothes were in the dryer. And then I spaced out and put my running shorts in the wash. Sigh. It's been one of those weeks. Last night was really fun, but work has just been sucking and it's bleeding over into not-work tonight.
I still don't feel like cleaning up my room more than in tiny increments. And I still can't find my VCR remote.
I'm getting the distinct feeling that I should abandon complaining in here and go read a book or something. Some quiet activity that I can do with music playing in the background - that's the ticket. I hope.
Phew, an hour o' fucking off at work later, the pictures are up and renamed intelligibly. I didn't delete any except the ones that were so blurry as to be unrecognizable, so there's plenty of not so good pictures in there. The dates are slightly messed up (my camera was set a day back for a while, or it still thinks it's on Pacific time, I can't tell), but anything marked 12-Sep-2003 or later is stuff from this weekend. Or you can look for pictures that are marked dad-*, kyoto-*, hiroshima-*, a couple new shop-* ones, and then there is this TERRIBLE one of me and Dad at Kinkaku-ji. He looks fine, but I certainly don't.
You know, for as much as public drunkennes is accepted (expected?) in Japan, you'd think they'd catch on to this newfangled thing called "bannisters." Fiddle faddle.
Not much to say about work today except that I worked. I did totally forget about having a meeting at 3:30 with Yoshiyuki-san and Ueda-GM to...
Pardon while I actually scratch at the bites on my feet that I'd kept myself from futzing with all day... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
...to discuss what I've been up to this last month until about an hour before, which sucked, but they didn't seem to really rail against anything I said, so oh well.
After work, Jon, Nishihara-san, Iwahara-san, Markus and I went out for Mexican food. And lo, it was GOOD. I want to know where they buy their sour cream from... It was real sour cream as opposed to Japanese sour cream cum cream cheese (normally I avoid that word, but whatever... and it is funny), which made Jen extra happy. And Jon, considering that Nishihara-san decided he wasn't a big fan and gifted his extra to Jon. Two whiteys eating sour cream straight out of the dish... what a sight we made.
Markus finally showed up all extra late, but he brought me pink roses - shit, I almost forgot to take care of them, be back in a min - that I sort of spastically just took care of in a very drunken way.
I knew it was a mistake to toss that last shot right before we left the bar; I mean, it was free because they screwed it up, so someone should have drunk it, but you'd think that by now I'd understand the folly of taking a drink (even a nummy Baileys and mint one) right before coming home. It hit about halfway on the train up to Toyonaka... Never have I been so tempted to crawl into the bushes and sleep as I was after I got off at the station; Inari Jinja, in particular, looked inviting.
Anyway, Markus brought me flowers, we all ate and drank and went to a bar and talked, and things were good. But I'm absolutely exhausted. So that is all that you, dear reader, get out of my day.
At 3 pm today it'll be the three month birthday of me being in Japan, and I'll have just exactly over three months left. Hrm. But right now it's 5:35 am, sigh. I'm totally paranoid that the bag I'm sending home with Dad will be over the weight limit (it's got some books in it, and several of my souvenirs for people); I guess I'll just bring a bag along so that if I have to take some stuff out at the airport, I can pack some of it back home.
For all of my bitching and moaning, for all of my whining and griping, I don't think I'd really been homesick until I stood in the sun on Itami Airport's observation deck and waved goodbye to Dad's plane. It had me wondering if I'd have someone(s) to see me off when I go. Probably not; I've got no strong desire to have Yoshiyuki help me to the airport, and he's the one who'd most likely do it. I think I'd rather just shell out for a taxi by myself the whole way than mess around with him taxi'ing it to Itami and then taking a shuttle down to Kansai or whatever thing like that that he'd suggest. Not to mention that, and this is terrible, I admit, I really want to wash my hands of him when I finish up work - the idea of him being the last face I see before I go is... less than palatable.
I have several (aka "ridiculously lots") pictures, but I came in late to work today and so they may not be up until tomorrow, along with the proper weekend wrapup. But for those in suspense, I did end up just correcting Masuda-san's mistake about my mother instead of going into some complicated lie.
I promised myself that I would come home, do no cleaning, and write postcards (because I finally went sightseeing, I finally have postcards to flood people with... and flood I will, although several might end up being sent c/o EPLT or Espresso Roma, heh). But my desk was so covered with random crap that I had to do some cleaning, and I'd forgotten until now that I lost my only pen during the clubbing night. I really do wonder where it went, heh. (scolding) See, that's what alcohol does for you! You lose your pens! Given that I have no more pens to lose, however, I feel no compunction about nursing my birthday beer (laughing). Masuda-san came up to me while I was eating dinner, carrying two of the special Central League Champions Tigers cans that Asahi put out on the street the moment the Yakult game got decided, and said that I'd have to wait a bit longer for my real birthday present, but that she hoped I'd take the beer in the meantime, heh. I'm not sure whether to be more surprised that I'm getting a birthday present at all from the dorm caretakers, or more weirded out that the first thing she thought to give me was beer. Heh.
I'd kind of forgotten that I'd asked Jon if he wanted to do something this week, heh, but it looks like tomorrow night he, Markus, me, and maybe Nishihara-san are going to go to the Mexican restaurant in Shinsaibashi that he stumbled across a week or two ago. He said he liked the food, but I'm not sure what kind of judge a Brit will be on Mehiiikan food, so I'm reserving judgement. But that should be fun... even if it means postcards get delayed another day. (laughing) Talking about postcards today, Jon pulled out a bunch of halfwritten ones from his bag today - some of them were almost two years ago. I voted for him to send them anyway, as time capsules of sorts. How random would that be, to get a postcard that had originally been written two years before?
I was far too exhausted at work to do much of anything productive; I actually had to shake myself awake when I started dozing in front of my computer at least twice. Sigh. That's what I get for getting up at 5 am. At least when I was dragging that heavy-ass bag into town this morning, it was a little cooler than it's been mornings before. It's amazing what a difference the humidity makes; it was hovering around 90 today like it was all last week, but a humidity drop from over 80% to just around 40% had me thinking I might not die here after all.
But enough delaying, it's time to finish working up my weekend. I've already had to explain to two people that I really did have a good vacation (the greatness of which continued today, with Brian's totally awesome birthday present of his Gameboy Advance with Puzzle Fighter inserted awaiting me when I got home), it was just that I didn't have a lot of time for writing, and what pops into your head when you've got limited time? The angry things.
So in the chronological ordering of things, I had just got to explaining what Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki was. I didn't get around to saying how damn tasty it was, did I? Mmmmm. I'm not sure I necessarily like it better than normal okonomiyaki, but it was nummy nonetheless. And Dad loved it, which made me happy. It was probably helped by the fact that it had yakisoba stuffed inside, which is one of the few Japanese foods my dad has had before, and that they didn't put little wiggly bonito flakes on top, heh. Anyway, even if he'd hated it, the cook was so thrilled to have a Japanese-speaking whitey in her shop that the meal would have been well worth it. She, by the way, gave me the first inkling that Masuda-san's reaction of "MY GOD YOUR DAD LOOKS SO YOUNG" was going to be continued all weekend, when she called over her two subordinate cooks to get their opinions as to whether they thought he was really my father.
After eating, we walked the half mile or so to Heiwa Coen, the Peace Park, through winding back streets of a commercial district - my favorite kind of Japanese street. I snapped a bunch of pictures of Heiwa Coen, so I won't spend too much time talking about it other than to say that it was absolutely gorgeous where it was gorgeous (the Children's Memorial, for example), beatifully moving when it was moving (the A-Bomb Dome, for example), and horribly gruesome where it was gruesome (the entire Peace Memorial Museum springs to mind).
Interlude : my room is not that big. How the hell did I lose my VCR remote? I really hope it didn't sneak a trip to the US. And why do gay guys make cooking shows the world over? And why are they not matched overseas by the Alton Browns and the Jamie Olivers? Bah.
Back to Hiroshima. We spent about three hours wandering around Heiwa Coen and the museum, but decided we wanted to head back before it got too late. On the train on the way back to Osaka to pick up Dad's luggage from the hotel he'd stayed at on Friday night, he suggested that I come up to Nagoya with him and stay at the Marriott. Hrm, stay at super nice hotel, with my dad offering to pay the train fare up there and back? Twist my arm, please. We ran up to the dorm to get my swimsuit (I never got to use it, sniffle) and a change of clothes, and finally rolled into Nagoya around 10 pm. We spent a long time in the concierge lounge, snacking on beef jerky and dried cranberries (and there was a single piece of cheddar cheese left when we wandered in!) while I talked all about Japan and what it's like here. I laid out a lot of my arguments for preferring the US, at least for long term stays, and listening to myself say them, I think they do actually have merit. I don't feel like writing about it now, but perhaps in the next day or two. I got to correct a lot of assumptions on Dad's part about Japanese culture; it was nice to be the unabashed comparative expert for once, heh.
On Sunday we slept in until around 10, and bolted out the door to get into Kyoto by a little before noon. And then after all that effort to get in to town so that we could go see the sights, we spent like an hour in the station while I showed him all around in there. It's a really cool building that bears a lot of spiritual similarities to the EMP in that it's a super experimental building that a lot of people hate. I, for one, think it's totally awesome, even beautiful in spots, but for some reason took no pictures. Maybe the next time I head up there.
We finally found an ATM that Dad could use, too. Weird Japanese ATMs that were trying to force him to only have a four digit PIN.
We took the bus up to Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion Temple. I figured as long as I was only planning on seeing one temple in Kyoto, I should go see as famous a one as possible. And yep, it was gold. Very very gold. I honestly was much more taken with the grounds of the old estate, and spent a lot of time taking pictures of the gardens. Dad kept on bugging me to ask people to take our picture together, and just didn't seem to listen when I told him, repeatedly, that all the people around us that he took to be Japanese were in fact a huge Korean tour group. Heh. I did surprise the shit out of a pair of Japanese boys by asking them to take our picture right after they'd been commenting on how pretty they thought my hair was and how they wished they had more white girls around. Teach THEM to blindly assume that whiteys don't talk the talk. The only thing that would have been better would have been if they'd been in the middle of insulting me, but I'll take the lesser amusement.
I spent a long time sitting on a fence watching the koi in the lake. I have a tendency sometimes, particularly when I've been adrift in a city like Osaka for a while, to lose track of what it was that drew me to studying Japan and Japanese culture in the first place. But the koi swirling around in the green water as the sun shimmered across the lake and illuminated a stone lantern on a tiny island... that reminded me.
After Kinkaku-ji, we hopped a bus over to Nijo-jo, Kyoto's castle. We only had an hour or so to spend there, so we didn't go on any of the tours inside the buildings, but I was content rambling around the grounds, planning out the Japanese garden I'll have someday, and scampering up the battlements to admire the moat below and the koi swimming lazily in it (I was so glad it was filled... when we went to the castle at Nagoya two years ago, the moat was a wretched muddy swamp). Not going inside the buildings just gives me an excuse to go back.
Random thought interlude... Whenever I get pissed at the choices men make in women, I remind myself that I'm much much smarter than 99% of the women in the world (the percentage would be lower if more women wouldn't be so intentionally stupid). It's small comfort, but comfort nonetheless.
We left Kyoto to come down to my dorm for dinner and did some more talking about my job on the way (he basically agrees with every complaint I have - admittedly, he's only hearing my end of it, but sometimes you hear only one side and still know they're in the wrong). When we walked into the cafeteria, Mr. Masuda looked up and asked where my mother was, which provided me a perfect chance to correct his wife's mistake without actually confronting her, hehe. We were eating really early to try to get back up to Nagoya before the pool closed, so there wasn't anyone else around, but Fu-chan (formerly known as Butch One) was thrilled to meet Dad. And repeated what we'd heard at least twelve times in two days... "your dad looks so YOUNG!" Heh. He had me coach him all the way through our curry on how to say gochisousama deshita to thank her for the food, and got it mostly right. Although he probably could have jumped up and down and hooted like a baboon and she still would have been thrilled. I've been bringing her the white men like crazy.
On our way out, Masuda-san came out of nowhere and wanted to know what was up with her husband telling her that my mother wasn't in the country, heh. Dad's and my current opinion is that she just couldn't conceive of the idea that a husband might travel without his wife. I had to do some delicate explaining on that one, and then she was like "where are you going?" so then I had to explain that I was going up to Dad's hotel for the night (and that that's where I'd been the night before). She got a little huffy about him not staying with us, but three phrases had her nodding reluctant agreement : "prior business relationship," "free room," "has a pool." Particularly the last one (laughing). She was really jealous.
We got back into Nagoya at just before 9 pm, stoked to have an hour to swim before bed. And then we found out that the pool actually closed at 9, not 10. We're still not sure if it was because it was a Sunday, or if the girl who told us yesterday it was open until 10 was just on crack, but we were sad anyway. Or we were sad until Dad noticed that you could get massages up in your room, 90 minutes for about the price that 45 minute one usually costs in the US. Off he went to the sauna, and off I went to our room to take a shower before having a little Japanese woman work me over but good. Mmmmm. She was thrilled that I spoke Japanese, and we had a good conversation. When I wasn't drooling, that is. I really wanted to head right to sleep afterwards, but Dad had decided he'd get one too, starting around 11:30 pm, so I had to stay up to be his translator. I mostly just read the paper, but it was apparently important that I be awake just in case. The woman who worked on me had a couple phrases of English, enough to recover when she asked me to turn on my stomach in a really weird way and I totally didn't understand her, but the man who worked on Dad had "hello," and "sign here," and that was about it. Nice guy. Bad teeth. But that comes with the Japanese territory, really.
We were out of the hotel in time to catch a 8:30 train to Osaka in the morning, and headed up to Toyonaka to drop Dad's luggage off at the hotel where he was staying last night, before his flight. We managed to solve all but two words of the crossword puzzle Dad had been working on while we were on the train. I taught him three new words, heh. I forget sometimes that Mom's and my vocabularies are so much bigger than his... he's so ridiculously smart that I forget that he's not nearly as well read as we are. The people at the hotel were really nice, but spoke zero English; Dad kind of clutched my arm on our way back out and told me how glad he was I was with him while he was here, hehe. He's not used to not being able to get along in even the slowest English (although I was pretty surprised at the fact that no one at that hotel had any command... it was weird). It's nice to feel useful.
After Saturday and Sunday being history and culture days, respectively, Monday was city day. I took him down to work and showed him around my building a little bit and introduced him to Yoshiyuki (who had some sort of business come up and couldn't go out to lunch with us, oh darn), but without going out into the plant areas, there wasn't a lot to see there. It was pretty funny that when the security guard challenged me bringing some random guy into the plant, all I got out was "He's my father and" (intending to follow it with something like "I'm just showing him around") before he was bowing like mad and shooing us in. Jon couldn't believe it when I told him, although it does play in a tangential way into our continually evolving theories about us being pet monkeys for their amusements. Pet monkeys are apparently not dangerous terrorists, particularly when they're the fathers of other well known pet monkeys (rolling eyes).
We headed into the Indian restaurant I like near the Hankyuu station for lunch, and Dad started talking to the cooks as soon as they smiled and waved at me like normal. His assuming that people I have a connection with are automatically his best friends can really annoy me (and well, did that time, too), but considering that their response to him saying that he'd come out for my birthday on Friday was to give us free lassi and ice cream with mango syrup, I'll not complain too much this time around. They also couldn't believe that he was my father and not a particularly old boyfriend or something. One of our theories is that people are used to seeing Americans that just look like shit, whereas Dad is actually in shape and takes care of himself.
We strolled around Umeda for a while, and decided to take a ride on the Hep Five ferris wheel even though it was too hazy to have a really good view of the city. For the first time ever, my father was able to restrain himself from scaring the shit out of me by rocking the car. He seems to have been laboring under the impression that Bryce and I actually thought it was fun, as opposed to freaking us the fuck out. He didn't even tease me for moving extra carefully when we were at the apex and we wanted to get some pictures. I'm so proud of him. Took him fucking long enough. Do I tease him about his phobias? Nooooooo.
We hopped on the subway and got off in Shinsaibashi... I walked him through Amerikamura (he agreed that the density of black people was singularly strange), the Shinsaibashi to Namba arcade (he thinks we should have more covered outdoor shopping areas in the US), the Dotombori arcade (at every shop, he'd stop and mutter something about not being able to believe his eyes at the amount of kitchen equipment just sitting on the street), and Den Den Town (which he was very blase about until I informed him that all those stores we'd been passing were actually multilevel, often having up to 6 or 7 floors of inventory - he blanched a little then). I was gambling that he'd never walked through an area of a town quite like that, and it paid off... he couldn't resist drawing comparisons to cities he's been in, but finally had to admit it was quite a lot of random shit piled together in a way that's just not quite comparable to any other place in the world. Except perhaps some other places in Japan, given that they're all about the random piling together of stuff. With lots of neon.
And I think that about covers it. We came back to his hotel and he went to the onsen across the street while I watched the Tigers drive towards the pennant, went to go get a late dinner at the yakitori place that is underneath the one Erin had recommended to me (it's one of the few places that's open past 9 pm around here... at least one of the few easily findable places) before coming back to his room to watch Boku Dake no Madonna and eat ice cream. And then Smap Smap, which was frigging hilarious, with Will Smith as the guest on Bistro Smap. Dad was dying... he said it was the only Japanese variety show he'd ever been tempted to watch more than a glimpse of. I was pretty strained to translate the parts that Will Smith wasn't speaking and the skits afterwards, though. I guess I never noticed how much I let that show flow over me and just retain the general ideas (I was, however, able to get nearly all of Boku Dake no Madonna across, so his misplaced faith in my Japanese ability was left unimpaired).
But now it's 10:30 and I'm going to bed. I've had about half as much sleep as I should have had for the last several nights running, and have done more walking around than any person with feet in as bad condition as mine should have been doing. Oh yeah, that reminds me that we had an adventure with Dad forcing me to go into a pharmacy and talk to the guy about something for my feet. It was embarrassing, but I finally just put myself in the mindset of just translating whatever Dad said, and trying not to stress about what the guy was thinking about the thoroughly odd pair in front of him. I got some steroid cream to use on my leprosy... er... contact dermatitis, and came out loaded with gauze and tape and moleskin for my blister. Dad's threatening to request pictures of my feet in a week, hah. I was a good girl and wrapped them up well today, and kept myself from itching them at work by keeping my Midori Safety Sneakers (hehe) on and tightly tied to provide pressure. They still look dreadful, though.
But really, I'm going to bed. Jen pooped. Jen also still can't find her remote control. Poop.
WHAAHOOO!!! The Tigers just won their first league championship in 18 years!!! If Dad wasn't here I'd be down at Dotonbori going nuts with half the damn city, but I'm content with borrowing his hotel TV while he's at the onsen and beating the shit out of the wall in glee (mostly). GodDAMN, what a year to be a Tigers fan! After we won our game a couple hours ago, I doubt there was more than 12 people in the entire town that weren't glued to their TVs watching for the Yakult game decision. But my battery is getting low (Sayuri's been going without being recharged for three days and still has half her battery, but I don't want to push her) so I will write more about my weekend later and for now just express extreme disappointment that Mr. D's didn't have curry doughnuts (for only the third or so time in three months) when Dad and I got back into Toyonaka tonight. Thbbpt.
And why must the only time that one of Dad's clients calls my keitai be the one time when I'm not with Dad and I don't know the number where he's at and it's midnight and a thirty minute round trip to his hotel and I have to be up at 5? AUGH. STRESS. Okay, I'm going to bed. I have to lug a very heavy suitcase back to Dad's hotel at about, oh, 5:55 am tomorrow. W00t. I guess I'll write a comprehensive weekend report tomorrow evening. I need the proverbial vacation from my vacation (not that there's actually a proverb like that, but whatever).
Well, I've got 20 or so uninterrupted minutes on the train here, so I think I should start catching up.
I met up with Dad at about 8:45, and we were safely on the way to Hiroshima on a 10ish train, complete with pizza bread and a bacon-cheese danish as a snack. I love Japanese snack food (talking about things like bacon-cheese danishes, not Pocky... perhaps "light lunch food" is a better descriptor); it's just so bizarrely tasty. The bacon-cheese danish, by the way, also featured a spicy tomato component. Two hours of chatting and admiring the scenery later, we hopped off in Hiroshima and went in search of okononomiyaki. Not really like we searched, mind you, given that I knew how to find Okonomimura, a building containing about six floors of okononomiyaki joints (there may be better places to go, but it made it so EASY). It was crazy crowded, but we lucked out and wandered to the end of the third floor right as a family of four was getting up from a place with a super nice-looking old lady as proprietor... she gave me a good feeling and didn't disappoint. Hiroshima-style (I actually got interrupted here, but figured I'd finish out the paragraph before moving to 9/15) okononomiyaki differs from normal okononomiyaki in two major ways that I noticed: they put yakisoba inside, and instead of using a batter that incorporates the veggies, they make a crepe-ish thing, and sandwich the innards between the crepe and a layer of egg.
I'm up at 7:45, showered and getting ready to go... and I'm STILL spitting mad at Yoshiyuki.
Because I doubt anyone else will sing it to me today... Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear meeeeeee.... happy birthday to me.
I woke up reasonably awake. Narahara-san gave me a ride to school. Kojio-san remembered it was my birthday and gave me some candy from his desk stash. Bryce is probably going to get a UWired job, and wished me birthday on time for the first time in years. Brian set an alarm to wake himself up so that he could message me happy birthday at 8 am Japan time. I got a nice long Jeff email. I spent two hours explaining to Yoshiyuki what I've been doing for the last month and a half, and although it's obvious he wishes that I were going faster, I think I convinced him of the need for the extra care I'm taking, plus I impressed him with my mad programming skillz. I got some good work done this afternoon in terms of learning about arrays and for each loops in Excel VBA (they're weird, trust me). The safety competition was today, so we all headed down at 3:30 to attend. Shimo-chan from my group totally wasted everyone else at the quick speed breathing apparatus drill. Jon did terrible, totally contrary to everyone's expectations given how well he'd done in practice, but he felt comfortable enough to really complain about it to me and I got to play supportive friend. They let Kumamoto-san, dressed in a normal guy's uniform, head up our firefighting team (we didn't place first, but not last either). Afterwards I got to chill with Jon and play supportive, M&M supplying friend some more. I got some more decent programming done. I left work at 4:30 to make sure I'd have time to get to the airport to pick up Dad, and there was good Salon and Stranger content to read on the trains and while I was waiting. The mocha I got at Starbucks actually tasted like a Starbucks mocha, rather than a Japanese Starbucks swill mocha like normal (still wasn't GOOD, but it wasn't terrible). Dad's plane was late, but we found each other just fine. I was able to absolutely perfectly in Japanese direct the taxi to where I live.
And this is where things started going downhill. Dad and I come walking in the door, and just as I start wondering why there's two sets of guest slippers laid down, Masuda-san runs up cooing over my dad. And I'm passing information back and forth as quickly as I can, when suddenly she asks "and where's your mother?" I stared at her, and said "she didn't come." I've told her a million and one times that my dad was coming. Never once did I say Mama was, I'm DAMN sure of that. So while I'm racing my mind trying to figure out where the hell she got this idea, she bursts out "oh, is she at the hotel already?" to which I responded "eh?" in total confusion. Problem is that she took this as the Japanese "ee," yes, and starts rambling off on some tangent and asks my dad some questions and things were total chaos before I understood really what had happened, at which point there was no way to gracefully repair the damage. I could have done it ungracefully, I guess. Instead I ran. Bolted up to my room with Dad, and distracted myself getting presents and things. Mom sent me Rotel and Velveeta, among other thigns, which is totally sweet. But apparently there was supposed to be some other present that didn't get packed, and Dad was obviously totally bummed about it. Checking the time, we decided to rush off downtown, because the restaurant I wanted to go to closed at 10:30 and it was already nearly 8:15. We made it into Umeda just fine, but the cash machine that we found that would take a Visa for Dad wouldn't let him enter more than 4 digits for a pin number and my bank's one was closed, so we decided to head to the hotel and change some of his cash there. But I had totally spaced on double checking exactly where it was (I knew it was somewhere right in the JR station, but wasn't sure which side), so we wandered around for quite a bit before we found it. And then Dad gives the guy at the desk his name, and we could immediately tell that something was wrong. Their computer was convinced that a fax had been sent in cancelling Dad's reservation. Managers were consulted, blah blah blah. Oh, not to mention that they totally thought that I was a prostitute for Dad or something. He got his room, but they said they'd be "confirming" the rate that he was supposed to get. Which means that they're probably going to try to up it. This was extremely stressful, particularly for me being me. By that time, it was a little after 10, so we headed over, sans enough money to pay at the restaurant, hoping that they'd take Visa. Sticking our heads in at 10:13, though, we were informed that sure, they close at 10:30, but they stop seating at 10. Sorry.... boot. And that pushed me over the edge. I was on the verge of tears, trying to figure out what to do about Masuda-san's misunderstanding, where I wanted to eat dinner and how we were going to pay for it, being incredibly angry and confused at what was up with the hotel, and basically feeling like a total failure. Oh, and I didn't mention that I was telling Dad all about work and how much it's making me angry, which really didn't help my mood.
Now, all of the things have relatively simple solutions. Just tell Masuda-san that she was mistaken and that I was flustered and mispoke when agreed to her saying Mom was at the hotel. Find a convenience store and use its ATM to get money, and worst comes to worst, just eat food from there if no decent restaurants were to be found. Don't stress about the hotel, that's in no way my fault and Dad can take care of that sort of thing himself. Well, I should say that they have simple solutions if you're not Jen. I can't stand the idea that maybe I somehow mispoke and gave Masuda-san the idea Mom was coming (I KNOW I didn't. I said the word otousan, "father," a million times, but never once did I say okaasan, "mother," or ryoushin, "parents." But then where did she get the idea?). I can't stand the idea of telling her to her face that she totally misunderstood me in some huge way. And I REALLY can't stand the idea of having to fess up that I brain farted and agreed to her statement and didn't immediately retract it. Dad finally suggested, to calm me down, that we just tell her on Sunday when we come to dinner (APPARENTLY, they're expecting two parental units, but will get only one) that Mom is ill, at the hotel. One down, albeit not simply. I was so flustered by everything that had gone wrong in the previous two hours that I couldn't think of a place to get food and didn't want to have to think of a place to get food, so we ended up going back and eating in the hotel cafe (it was decent, good even, but it was a pitiful excuse for a birthday dinner when my family has made such a point of birthday dinners being something special for so many years).
Over dinner, I poured out all my frustration about work to Dad, and couldn't believe it when he came up with the names for what I've been scrabbling at intuitively for three months with no fucking guidance. I guess it's because no one at work knows statistics that well beyond what they need for their task, or I don't know who knows... Yoshiyuki certainly didn't think it was important. I'm getting more and more pissed off at my fucking useless work to be published in some useless non-peer-reviewed journal so that he can rack up a publication credit. ARGH. I was nearly crying out of frustration over dinner, to find out that all along, if I'd had someone over me who cared and knew their shit, I could have been doing so much more and not had to go through all this CRAP for months, being ignored while I scrabbled for a way to make sense out of what I'm doing. I'm nearly crying about it now, for that matter. Finding out that if we had a competent statistician at work, or if I'd known which one it is if there is one, that I could have not had to basically make up monte carlo analysis, linear programming, factor analysis, and parts component analysis from scratch... it's so goddamn frustrating. Things like admitting to my dad that it's obvious that my mentor doesn't care if my work is useful in the long run really don't help the old pride, there. But Dad gave me a bunch of vocabulary that I needed to be able to look up the sort of stats I want to do in my work, so although I feel shitty, I'm glad I was able to get it off my chest with someone as ridiculously intelligent and educated as he is.
I need to go to bed because it's 1:15 and I want to be downtown by 9 at the latest... I could rant about work a hell of a lot more, but maybe I'll wait until after I have several hours on the train tomorrow to discuss things more with Dad.
Things I hate about this fucking country. ATMs that aren't 24 hours. Restaurants that tell you they close at 10:30 when they basically close at 10. Not being able to fluently speak the language (that's not their fault, but still). I was so angry coming home that I took an extra long way, crying the whole time, and kicked the shit out of a metal pole, bruising my toe. And I got home, went in to fill my water bottle, and was greeted, or rather not greeted, by the twelve dormmates partying it up in the cafeteria. Twelve still faces who stayed very still and unwelcoming while I filled my water bottle, and twelve still faces who opened their mouths and started chatting again as soon as I went out the door. I love feeling included. God fucking damnit. I mean, would it have killed them to say hello, at least? Asked, "hey, want to join us," even if they thought I totally wouldn't want to? I guess that sort of courtesy doesn't get done over here. God fucking damnit.
Question of the morning... Why on earth did I wake up with Offspring's "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)" in my head?
I am such a bizarre creature of habit. For example, there is a certain order that I do things in the mornings. If I can't do them in that certain order, I get really unsettled. Change downstairs, come up to my desk, set down my stuff, boot my computer, while it's booting go and get some coffee milk out of the vending machine, come back, flip my name tag over, and settle down to have my morning goof. I do this even though, for example, I pass the vending machine and the name board on my original way in and could easily do those tasks at that time. But nooooo, I started doing it one way and I keep on doing it. I'm like a horse that's learned a crazy gait.
A postcard from Ryan in London (well, he's not there now, but he was on the 5th) was a good birthday eve present, and I get to leave work early tomorrow... It's shaping up to be a decent weekend.
The Scorpion King is just as terrible as I'd feared and hoped. Seeing as I will not be overly engrossed in, I think I will give a running random commentary for the next hour and a half on what pops into my mind to distract me from the terrible dialogue, heh. All I really want to know is, who is the somewhat hottie who looks like Tom Cruise but isn't? The times that IMDB is made for. On that internet that I don't have at home. Hrm. I never realized before how much The Rock resembles an idealized Warren in my mind. I can't BELIEVE he's using the rolling gong as a shield thing! Now I'm all craving for Temple of Doom. There's one of those strange, distant lightning storms going on to the north again. So far off that I can't hear the slightest rumble, but it's flashing up the sky every few seconds. And coming closer.
See? The Scorpion King is the sequel that The Mummy Returns could have been. Is it any wonder, given the standards of most sequels coming out today, that I defend my beloved Brendan Fraser and that silly silly movie so vociferously? Okay, only vociferously when it occurs to me. But it was a damn good sequel anyway (as I said, given current standards). With hot chicks. And Brendan Fraser. Of course, the question arises, why did I like the original so much? How could I not? It crossed Army of Darkness with Indiana Jones! Come on now!
And here comes the downpour.
At some point this afternoon, I seem to have pinched a nerve in my back. I can't turn my head more than 45 degrees to the left without a stabbing pain between my left shoulder blade and my spine. I was hoping for a while that I'd be able to crack it out, but I think I'd need someone else to crunch my spine to get at where things are screwed up. But even that might not help... I'll go down and soak my shoulder and hope for the best, I guess.
This DVD is actually one that has bonus material! Sweet! I was wondering if Japanese rental ones were some sort of special type that didn't have bonus features, seeing as the past four I'd rented had a menu that allowed you to manipulate the language and subtitles, but nothing else. I'm loath to believe that, for example, The Royal Tenenbaums DVD really has no bonus material at all, given that it came out so recently and features are all the rage lately, so it seems that some of the rental DVDs are castrated and some are not.
I'm watching, well, listening to the movie again with The Rock's audio commentary on while I wait to avoid taking a bath with Grandmotherly One. Why the hell am I doing this, you may be wondering. Well... I was going to read my book until I was flipping through the features and saw that one of the commentaries was by him. I think The Rock is a terrible serious actor, but he's really quite funny to listen to. He really wouldn't have been that bad in this movie, even, if they'd never let him utter a line that wasn't a comedic moment. He's the sort of guy I'd get along with pretty well with if our relationship was limited to cracking sarcastic jokes about whatever we observed. And really, that's not a bad sort of friend to have. But if he says "and this is one of my favoriite scenes" again, I'll scream. It's much better when he's mocking everything. Commentary people need to stop it with the "and this is one of my favorite scenes," "the production people did such a good job," blah blah blah. Comments to the whores asking if they can rub his muscles like "oh no baby, you ain't ready for the Scorpion King" is where it's at. I can't believe that he didn't groan at some of the crap he had to say, considering the mocking that's going into other people's lines and situations, but then again, maybe he's just got a real sense of pride about his "work"? It'll wear off in a year or two.
I was intending to go down and read in the bath for a while to try to help my back, but just as I was getting cleaned up, a bunch of new hot water got pumped in, and I couldn't sit in it for all that long without danger of fainting. I fancy that the pain is a little less, but I still can't turn my head. I'll at least go straight to bed without doing anything that might make it worse.
I forgot to mention the Email of the Week yesterday... in context, Mimura-san had sent me an email to remind me to go to the team-building Othello tournament at lunch yesterday, to which I had responded that I'd go, but I was going to get my ass kicked. For best effect, visualize this in the bright red 72 point font of the original.
Subject: No ser!
To the WIN! (^^v
please! m(_ _)m
enjoy your game! (to the WIN!)(^^v
If my day had just ended at 11:14 when he sent that, I would have been much happier. Although I was mightily confused for a bit, particularly because when I first saw the subject line, I thought he MEANT to write in Spanish. Heh.
Tonight is Stargate night, I decided (yes, I rented it while I was out yesterday... That and The Scorpion King, which I never got around to seeing in the theater and will surely be wonderfully terrible). It's a comforting favorite movie that is guaranteed to, in combination with a bit of strawberry ice cream, keep me firmly in my present good mood. It even came out long enough ago so that I saw it on a date with Mike, who is not an ex that it bothers me dreadfully to think about.
Man... This movie is so good! And James Spader is so good in it! He's the world's perfect nerd. I feel like it's been forever since a good sci-fi movie was made that didn't remake either a comic book or a TV show (books are okay, as long as they're not Star Wars novels or something). What I wouldn't give to have another Contact, another Stargate, another Fifth Element, god, even another Mummy, as long as it wasn't literally another. It's been too long since a sci-fi movie brought me a new story (as much as movies are "new" stories, given). Remakes can be good, comic book and TV adaptions have their place, sequels can occasionally be worth their time (The Mummy Returns, for example, was exactly what I wanted out of that sequel, and there's always Jedi to point to)... But where are my new, good ideas? I don't want a Starship Troopers or a Wing Commander, I want a movie that I like. Heh. I do wonder, though, if a lot of my appreciation for Stargate, more so than any of the others I listed above, might not come largely because the special effects were so understated (for a sci-fi movie). Having to work with a primitive planet, there wasn't as much opportunity for overzealous People In Charge to abuse the capabilities of their effects people.
Although a single gripe... There's not that many symbols on the stargate. I don't buy that they needed Jackson to come by and determine which symbol was the needed seventh one. Bullshit. It would have taken them a few days of trying combinations, but they would have gotten it. The only thing you can justiify is if they had only recently, perhaps in the last year, even set up the systems to run the thing.
I'm foregoing running in deference to my foot again. I'm also going to try to be asleep by 11:45 at the latest. I've been exhausted for days, and it's not going to be any better if I spend all hours this weekend tramping around with Dad. I told Masuda-san I'd bring him by for dinner on Sunday... She seemed to forgive me a bit for Andrew and Mike when I said that. I made the mistake of mentioning how my September was turning out to be busy, though, and couldn't think of a good recovery in Japanese quick enough when she asked me what I was talking about, so now she knows Erin and Dan are swinging through town the week after. I came up with something about how their oldtime teacher friends will no doubt want to take them out every night, so hopefully she won't hate me forever if I don't bring them by (although Erin, if you want to come and eat at my dorm, she'd love to have you, heh).
I spent all day working VBA again today. It's a wretched programming language, but god, I needed the chance to do something different, and it's helping my mood a lot to do it. I wrote the most inefficient script ever... it was hilarious. It took over eight minutes to run (it was looping through about seven hundred cells that referenced cells in arbitrary sheets, finding the original referenced cell, checking that cell's conditional formatting status, and changing the background color of the referencing cell based on that status). It was super awesome. I cleaned it up a little, but I knew for a fact that it was really flipping out because Excel was activating all the different sheets (for a very stupid reason... trust me that conditional formatting is DUMB when you try to check it) and redrawing the screen every time. My first half-hearted attempt was just to bring something up to cover the screen, but no doubt stupid stupid Excel was still drawing shit. But 20 minutes of searching taught me that there's an item to toss in the beginning of a routine that tells it to not update the screen until it finishes, and I was well pleased with myself when the entire thing executed in under a minute after I absorbed that little tidbit of knowledge.
I spent a lot of time this evening explaining to Jon what the script did, line by line, because he's jonesing to learn VBA and more programming in general, and he was in awe that I'd understood what the problem had been earlier (I'd laughingly showed the thing executing back when it was going nuts for ten minutes) and been able to reason out how to fix it. It's funny talking to a nonprogrammer engineer. I mean, I know that they're out there, even the majority perhaps, but given that they force CSE 142 and 143 down the engineers' throats at the UW, pretty much everyone at home has some sort of idea what I'm talking about, particularly considering that most of my friends are CSE or EE. And hell, look at me. I'm a terrible excuse for a programmer. To have an extremely intelligent engineer thinking I'm god for the worst VBA script known to man? That was icing on my day. I felt bad, though, because then it was kind of my fault he was late to go meet Nishihara-san, heh.
I did in fact work up the nerve to ask him if he was busy today or tomorrow, but sadly, he was. Tonight's a funny one - he was going along with Nishihara-san and another guy to a sort of arranged date with three girls. I teased him a lot about it on the way home; he's only going along because they needed a third guy and he wanted to hang out with Nishihara-san, but the situation looks terribly amusing when you remember that he's got a girlfriend. Shimura-san was all shocked and things. It led us to an interesting conversation on the train home about Western ideas about dating as opposed to Japanese. He said that the Japanese tend to view dating as a commitment as binding as marriage, and for a guy with a girlfriend to go along tonight like Jon was is apparently completely inappropriate. I think he's exaggerating, but still. Another tack we took: in Japan, to go after a girl who has said she has a boyfriend is a serious no-no. In the US or England, a guy will often just assume that he just needs to work that much harder for the girl he fancies. Although I did point out to him that at least in the US, if a girl wasn't serious enough about a guy she was seeing to be considered "taken," she probably wouldn't say she had a boyfriend in the first place. He says England's a lot more enlightened about that stuff than we are, which neatly manages to give him free moral license to do whatever he wants, heh. I should have been British.
I bid him goodbye in Umeda and came back home in a fine mood, although I'm still hankering to have longer to talk to him outside of work than 30 minutes on the trains. Maybe next week? I'm actually really curious to hear about his perspectives on dating some more, after the tidbits I gleaned today and after meeting Ai-chan (they've been dating for just over three years) this weekend.
Jesus, no wonder it was so cold in here the last day or two. My AC was turned down to 24 (uh... about 75). I wonder if Andrew was at my remote, heh. (surveying room) I'm going to have to clean this place up tomorrow; I'll not be back between work and picking up Dad at the airport on Friday, and my room's something of a dump at the moment. Although maybe I'll leave all the beer cans from this weekend... he might think it's funny.
My poor foot is just fucked. There's the blister, of course, and the cramped muscles from favoring the blister. But I don't think I've mentioned yet the sores. Sores? Well, it started by wearing jeans and Birks one day when it was raining a few weeks ago (three?); the edge of the rough, wet denim got trapped underneath a sandal strap at some point in my commute, and I didn't notice it until I got home and found I had chafed the skin to hell. Being an idiot, I didn't do anything with it particularly. Now, it doesn't get irritated constantly when I walk, but particular movements don't do it any good, so it's taken its sweet time about healing. But then came getting bitten to shit by mosquitoes on Saturday, including three on my left foot. It itches like crazy, and suffice to say that I've scratched and rubbed at the area a lot more than I should have. Because that'll make the bites go away and the scrape heal up faster, yep. Sigh. My foot looks like I've got some sort of horrible skin disease. Or like I took a cheese grater to it, I suppose. I've been dosing it with Lanacane and Neosporin at regular intervals, but I'm relatively certain that the original scrape is going to scar, whee! Speaking of which, that stigmata mark I recieved in my ignomious fall exactly eight months ago is still clearly visible. It'll probably hang around for a year at least. Whee!
Considering it's 11:59 at the moment, I appear to have failed my attempt to be out by 11:45. Sigh. But Chris Rea is done singing to me, so that's enough for tonight.
They're leaving today while I'm here at work. :(
Sigh. I don't know where to start, but I suppose chronologically works.
I bid goodbye to the boys this morning and limped to work in a total funk. Hanging out with American friends for a long weekend really brings to light what totally sucks about being a gaijin in Japan. Namely, the Japanese are very nice, and they'll go out of their way to do stuff for you but they're exclusive strangerxenophobic assholes to a fault. And I fucking hate it. Complaining to Erin about it today, she had a jingle to fit the occasion... "Globalization! Internationalization! As long as we don't have to interact with you in any way resembling normal integration!" It rips you up, because you don't know whether to appreciate the crazy kindnesses they show you, or get depressed at not having anyone open up to you unless they're drunk, in which case they pretend it never happened afterwards. AUGH.
I got work done today, which was something. Well, I got VBA studying done, but I felt better about accomplishing some programming than futilely banging my head against that goddamn modelling software again. I also snuck in a 10 minute doze in the bathroom because I was just too exhausted to handle things anymore. Bleh. I really wasn't too unhappy, though, until for some bizarre reason listening to Puddle of Mudd on the way home just about had me in tears. I'd been wondering where the Monday depression had gone... apparently Mike and Andrew just helped me shunt it off a day.
It very much didn't help to randomly read something about Alaska and suddenly think of Dougie. When he moved away, I thought it likely that I'd not see him again, and given my intensely lonely mood tonight, the certainty of that is overwhelming. I miss people so badly tonight... and god, I miss Jim. Maybe I should see if I can go chill with Jon ater work sometime in the next week or so... it might make me feel better to talk things over with him, who knows. He's got his girlfriend and his life here, admittedly, but he's still got an understanding of what it's like to be stranded in this ridiculous place all by himself.
My foot and my other muscles are hurting too bad to go out running tonight - I need to let my stupid foot, in particular, have some time to not get totally fucked up. But I think I'll compromise by walking down to WP and renting a movie. It'll get me out without feeling pressured to overwork my foot, and give me something to pay attention to that isn't being depressed.
Oh, I forgot to mention the other upsetting thing today... I got bitched out some more by Masuda-san for not having the guys eat here more. I know she's feeling insulted, like she thinks that I think that their kitchen isn't good enough for my friends, and I understand, after the fact. But damnit, A) I didn't want them to be a nuisance, B) I felt that since they came to the party on Saturday night and spent quite a lot of time on Sunday and Monday nights hanging out and chatting with the cooks and the Masudas, it was pretty obvious that they were appreciative and happy to be here, C) sitting in a public cafeteria just isn't the same as going out to a restaurant and holing up in a corner with your friends, D) I'm 100% certain that I made it clear last night that I was very sorry about the misunderstanding, so it was really unnecessary to berate me about it again and E) oh man, there isn't an E, I'm just feeling put upon and guilty, and I don't like it. Piss and moan.
I did go out and get a couple movies, but I took a long wandering walk home, and I think it'd be the better part of valor to not start a movie past 11 pm tonight. So music and my book it is... I think I'll skip over Rammstein (save it for keeping me awake on my way to work in the morning) in favor of Maurice Ravel. I could probably just loop Bolero all night and be as content as I can be given my mood, really.
There are only a very few pictures this week, and sadly, the only one of Andrew and Mike that came out at all is really dark. I'm still hoping that Mike's camera got some decent ones when we were on the dam...
Definitive quote of the night, which must sadly be paraphrased because I'd had a few by that point, ran something like this (Mike):
So I was totally surprised to find out that you're white. I mean, you're his [Andrew's] friend, enough for him to come visit you, in Japan? And you're white! I had just assumed you were Asian.
I mean, what can I say, this is just one of those things that points to the fact that I basically rule. Well, actually, it points to the fact that I'm a guy in disguise, but shuddup, I like the "I rule" interpretation.
I was totally exhausted at work today. I managed around 6 and a half hours of sleep last night, even going to bed comparatively hella early (I turned off the TV, from bed, around 11:30), and it just wasn't doing any good. At least twice, I decided it was worth being caught to just close my eyes while at the CoP, and half-doze until my head started nodding, heh. I did actually get a lot of work done today, at least when you think about how much I got done the last week. More of that "running down shit and making sure it's not the right path" crap, so demoralizing, but has to be done (shrug).
I hurt all over today... the nuttiness this weekend got to that part on the sole of my foot that blistered a few weeks ago. Apparently, something about the way I'm walking this summer is getting at the single part of the bottom of my foot that isn't perfectly callused. And which has never had a problem in years of wearing Birks all summer, may I add. And either falling and catching myself on branches, wrenching my shoulders, on Saturday, or dancing for hours with my arms in my air that night, tortured the fuck out of my shoulder muscles. It was probably a combination of both, sigh. I think I remember saying something a year or two ago somewhere in here about fuck sex, fuck hot food, fuck a comfy bed, just give me a backrub... so very very true.
I got off work and met up with the boys in Umeda (they went up to Kyoto today, and apparently Andrew spent the whole time reading while sending Mike around to sightsee, hehe) to head back home and get dinner. They really wanted to go to the Beer Restaurant, but sadly, it was closed, so we opted for Erin's yakitori place. And lo, it was good. And beer was had, and Andrew and I got to talk for a long time about books, which I hadn't been able to do with someone for... well, not since I had a comfortable hour or so with Seth a few nights before I left. That reminds me that I want to remember to loan Andrew Drawing of the Dark to read on the trains in the next couple days... I'm not going to re-read it in the next couple months (although I have to give it much respect for keeping me company on my trans-Pacific flight, don't get me wrong), and he's never got chances to read like he's got this vacation.
Masuda-san came up tonight and bitched me out (in the nicest way) for eating out with the guys so much the last couple days. APPARENTLY, when you have friends over, you can just ask the kitchen to make you whatever the hell you feel like eating, and they'll just charge you the same as normal. How was I supposed to know? Anyway, when the guys left this morning to go sightsee, there was some sort of conversation about "we'll make you breakfast" and "oh don't worry about it, we'll get something on the way." Both sides are completely honest and not rude in the slightest, in their respective cultures. But Americans expect the former to be a mere platitude, and Japanese take the latter as an insult to their kitchen. Not that Masuda-san and the cooks were actually ANGRY... but I think they were a little offended. So the guys are going to get up ass early and eat with me tomorrow morning, heh.
And speaking of having to get up ass early... As much as I dislike only getting five and a half hours of sleep, I prefer it over less. So goodnight.
Sigh. I slept about three hours and then an email from my dad to my phone woke me up... and I just can't quite get myself to go back to sleep. Drink water, watch the Mariners game, sober up, I guess that's the plan. As long as I've got the time, I guess I'll work on that retroactive update.
So I was talking about how we climbed the mountain. After the horrendous climb up a ravine trail, we came out on top of a ridge, with a perfectly good map that showed where we were in relationship to the waterfall (we were on the far side of a hiking loop). Things were going to be just fine. There were some ridiculously huge spiders in the most inconvenient locations, but still, just fine. It actually would have been just fine if the trail didn't keep on branching, often with no signposts saying what was what way. We kind of guessed. Wrong. We ended up, for example, heading down a trail that was more suited for mountain goats than people, and I seriously don't know how I didn't fall, considering I had ill-advisedly worn my Birkenstocks. The deer trail dead-ended at the bottom of a ravine, at a creek. Oh yeah. This is when the downpour started. There wasn't much else to do than walk in the river, me holding an umbrella and laughing semi-hysterically (it really was funny, once I decided not to care about the possibilities of flash flooding). Andrew called out triumphantly from up ahead - he saw a wall, he said, we're back at civilization, he said. And then, a howl of disbelief mixed with something about Battle Royale. I came around a bend to see a wall, alright... the wall of a dam (Andrew's favorite scene in BR occurs on a dam exactly like the one we found). There wasn't anything to do but climb up the basically vertical bank of the gully and see what we could see, and take a picture of the boys on the dam, which came out all blurry on my shitty camera, but maybe the one I took with Mike's camera came out. It was still pouring, by the way, as we edged along a tiny ledge, holding on to the fence that we were pretty sure we were supposed to be on the other side of. But then we randomly came out at a little picnic area right by a cluster of houses, so we didn't end up dying in the woods after all. But at that point, there was no way that we were going to head back into the woods to try to find a trail to the waterfall, we didn't care if we were close or not, or even that it had stopped raining. We were totally drenched, all muddy from climbing up rocks... It was one of those weird experiences that totally sucked but was totally awesome at the same time. Heh. There was nothing that fit better, either, than coming back to the Minou station, still dripping, and finding a Wendy's. A spicy chicken sandwich has never tasted so good. Really, the only thing that really sucked is how eaten I got by mosquitos. I have nine bites... on my right leg. Seven on my left, and three on the back of my left arm.
We got back to the dorm, and Mike headed out to meet up with some friends of his, while Andrew and I chilled watching elementary school championship soccer (he's convinced that they were actually robots... no way kids could be that good) until the dorm party started up around 6. That was fun; much beer was consumed. Narahara-san came by, which was nice, and Jon came, which made me really happy. I love Jon and everything, but I was particularly glad to be able to give Andrew a soccer fan to talk to, heh. Mike came back and started trying to catch up, Arimori and Kimura flirted with me and introduced me to Nishimura-san, who is hella cute and apparently lives here but I've never met. Who also flirted with me, = good. Although Arimori definitely won points for starting up the whole slapping my head thing. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, but I don't feel like explaining it... it's a Japanese thing.
Somewhere along the way, Markus and I solidified our ideas on going out to a club afterwards. Jon headed off to collect his girlfriend and meet us at the club later, and Andrew and Mike were to go with us... which is where things went a little sour. Mike, it turned out, actually was down with the idea. Andrew, it turned out, actually wasn't so much, and I wasn't in a condition to really figure that out until he'd already missed the last train back to Toyonaka. So as a prelude to everything that happened later, I should say that I had a great time, but I'm feeling a LOT of guilt for keeping Andrew out at a club all night when he really didn't want to be there. A lot. Sigh. But anyway, we met up with Jon and Ai-chan (who is wonderful, and I can totally see how she and Jon have been dating for three years) in Umeda and stopped off at two pubs for a couple more drinks before heading to the club. There's not a lot to say about the first couple hours at the club... I danced a lot with Marcus and Jon and Ai-chan, and Andrew was even pulled out for a little bit. Mike was kind of floating peripherally for a while. Around 2 or 3, we all met back up at the bar and hung out for a while; I don't remember a lot of the conversation except for the part where I was trying to explain to Marcus that not all Americans suck total ass. I think the part after that is when I pulled Mike back out, and we danced together for at least another hour, heh. He headed back to take a rest, though, and I decided I was just going to hang out by myself on the floor. Bad idea. This really weird skanky dude had been circling me suspiciously for an hour or two... I'd been keeping the weirdos at bay by obviously dancing with the ripped German and/or the ridiculously tall American, you see, and suddenly I was berefit of that protection. The guy glommed onto me, and was totally disgusting, feeling me up and... (shudder) there's good touching while dancing and there's really weird skanky dude nasty touching while dancing, and this was firmly in the latter category. I pulled away (he was holding on to my arm pretty tight, so this took some work), and headed to the side to sit and see if I could see any of my friends to shelter with... he found me within a minute or two, and dragged me back out. Grosser than ever (SHUDDER). I had to wrench my arm away from him, and then I bolted to the safety of Andrew, who was sitting on the side of the bar area, watching people play pool. We talked, I hit on some Japanese girls for him (rolling eyes), and we basically chilled, waiting for the trains to start running. I'd wander over to Jon and Ai-chan every now and then, but I was feeling horribly personally responsible for Andrew, so I'd soon go back over and keep him company (incidentally, I finally felt tonight like Jon was getting to be a real friend rather than a "work friend," which made me pretty damn happy). On the way back to the train, though, around 5:30 or so, I got really belligerently angry at him. If I hadn't been so beat, I think I would have actually tried to fight him, which is a hilarious idea for anyone who has seen Andrew (he's about Jim's build, except he works out, and Jim doesn't). As was, I was tired and did on some level know better, so I just got really weirdly sarcastic.
And this is where I came home around 6:30 and was supposed to get some sleep. But Dad emailed my phone around 9:30 and the buzzing woke me up... and there was no going back to sleep after that. Sigh. I watched the Mariners game that was on, and once that was over, didn't know what to do with myself. I checked with the boys and they were still crashed out (as I should have been), so I decided that I'd go and get food for them to have when they got up. I was predicting they'd both feel like shit. Whether or not they did, I don't know, but it made me feel good to be able to offer them sandwiches and Andrew's favorite onigiri and Pocari Sweat when they got up and moving around, and they seemed to appreciate it. I'm still feeling kind of bad about the whole thing. I'm totally down with the idea of being out all night clubbing, but I feel kind of like I dragged them out. After the hiking debacle earlier, I felt like the world's shittiest host. Still do, hah.
We lounged around my room for a few hours, watching TV and napping, before we decided that we'd feel better about ourselves if we didn't stay inside all day. We went to Umeda to look for an arcade with DDR, which also did not work out ("also" referring to the hiking thing and the clubbing thing)... We looked in seven arcades, all those that I'd seen in my wanderings, before a chance thought brought memory of one other; there was indeed a machine there, which gave me an instant's hope that things would be slightly made up for poor Andrew (I should say that for all I know, he's just fine, but I'm feeling horribly guilty anywa). But it turns out that the machine there was some shitty version, so that didn't help my cause. Dinner was good but not delicious... bah. I just feel bad for the fact that I'm so incredibly happy to see him, and to have met Mike and have the pair of them around, that to have an inkling that I'm not repaying them in some way for everything they're giving me this weekend is really upsetting.
We got home around 6:30, at which time I finally got a chance to beg the Masudas if the boys can stay another two nights. I'm also feeling bad for this; we didn't figure out until this afternoon if the guys were leaving to stay somewhere in Kyoto from tonight for the next two nights or not, and Masuda-san wasn't around when we took off... So I had to come in late at night and ask then... Sigh. So hard to explain how I can have so many things to complain about, but still have had such a good time the last two days. I wouldn't give up having these guys around for anything. And I can look forward to going out to dinner with them tomorrow before they take off... the next three months will seem so very long. I told Andrew today that I'd give anything to be down in Gerb with him and Craig tomorrow instead of at Sumitomo, and while he may have not paid much heed to the comment, it's very true.
Speaking of Craig, he had Andrew bring me a book to read, something which touched me more, even, than John and Jim's packages, because it was so unexpected. I almost started crying, and was thankful for Andrew's jokes about Craig having said he loved me or something. There's nothing to be read into it, of course, worry not, heh. It was just a random act of kindness that I appreciate very very much with as lonely as I've been. Out of all of my friends, only Seth and Craig would think to send me a book as a present, and I love them for it more than I can express.
Wow. I just read through what I wrote last night... It basically made sense up until the last paragraph. Which coincides with as much as I remembered writing. Heh?
Well, today has been an adventure. We thought that we'd head up into Minou and see some monkeys and the waterfall, do some hiking... yep, that was the plan. Once we got into the park, though, we decided that rather than going directly to the waterfall, we'd head out on the hiking trail first. We basically climbed directly up the side of the fucking mountain. I just about died. Once we got
Interlude of several hours.
I just got home, on the first train in the morning from Umeda. I think I'll do some sort of retroactive update once I sleep. I hear sleep is good for you.
It's actually somewhat cool today. I would have been unhappy wearing a long sleeved shirt, but there was a good breeze and cloud cover, without it being humid as all hell. Slowly, very slowly, summer is starting to turn (it's supposed to be beastly through the end of September, still).
WOO. And anything that starts with that word... well, suffice to say that I'm typing most words at least three times. And even then, I provide no guarantees.
Work has never felt longer than it felt today. Knowing that there was a labor union party at 5 or 5:30, knowing that I'd meet up with Andrew and Mike at 7:30... it was too much. Incidentally, I'm entirely unconvinced that the word is actually spelled "party," but spell check assures me that it is. That should give you an idea of where I'm at. The sentence "I had four cans of beer at the labor union party, and two double size Asahi cans plus a (7%) chuu-hai in the last couple hours" should give you some more. So yeah, I apologize for typos.
I can't express in words how nice it is to see Andrew. Even if he's the sort that would settle in Japan permanently (Erin at least, I hope, takes my meaning), it's still so wonderful to see someone from home. I met up with them at 7:30, having rudely gotten tipsy before them at the labor union gig, and things are good. The aforementioned personality trait (I didn't really mention it, just referring that "permanently" comment) that would likely cause Andrew to stay great lengths in Japan is in full effect, but hey, he still does a nice flirty joke with with me at the minimum level, and his friend Mike even more respectably so. Although my definition of "flirting" has been, I suspect, radically shifted over the last two or three months. I take what I can get and smile at it.
Why is it always 30 minutes afterwards? Anyway.
After dinner and a preliminary introduction to the dorm (which included a vast conversation about how they were to get towels... have they not watched The Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy?), we went out for Indian food (because after all, I was craving it), and stopped by on the way home to rent Battle Royale for Mike to watch. Andrew and I were able to decently translate it for Mike (he cheated, he's seen it with subtitles).
I can really speak no longer, but I begrudge Andrew and Mike not for the afternoon, except where either my actions or theirs made them uncomfortable. Totally not the point, but a summing-up idea nonetheless, is that I only wish that I could auction off "interesting" people and see what difference racially there was beyond the obvious who voted for whom ideal.
The last two days I've woken up knowing that I was dreaming something intense, but it slips away too quickly for me to catch when my alarm goes off.
That's it, I give up on Service Pack 4. I even let the damn thing try to run overnight, and although the installation progress bar in the Windows Update dialog had progressed all the way over, the SP4 dialog was still stuck at the same damn spot. Fuck you, SP4, fuck you.
It's been all about American movies on TV the last several days. Tonight it's that mid 90s remake of Sabrina with Harrison Ford, and how can I turn down Harrison Ford? You know I can't. I suppose it's to make up for there not being anything at all in the American entertainment market the last few days.
(fidget fidget) Andrew still hasn't given me a call, which probably means that he and Mike either aren't rolling this way until Saturday, or aren't at all... I hate having things unsettled.
I spent about an hour after work wandering around Amerikamura, rejecting item after item for being used and priced over 2000 yen. Um, no. I did find one that is something what I wanted, but fear it's too small (I haven't felt like trying it yet). It was only 500 yen, so whatever, if it doesn't fit, it's not like it was one of the many used shirts I saw for 4900 (shuddering). I saw more black men today than I'd seen in three months; every single intersection I walked through down there had at least one or two guys lounging around. Several of them were beckoning people into stores (apparently, nothing advertises "stylish and hip America" like African Americans in Nike gear), but several were just hanging out.... I felt like all the black guys in Japan were concentrated in that one neighborhood. Slightly related, there was some really good hiphop being played in the stores down there, as well as some decent punk and electronica. Even if I wasn't shopping, it'd be fun to hang out down there and just listen outside the stores.
W00T Got my phone call from Andrew. Meeting up at the JR station at 7:30, cash money, baby. I feel a lot better, having that all figured out. I even have a vague idea of what to do with them, heh.
I plotted things out on the map I got from Jason, and it looks like I'm working a 3.3 mile course, running a bit more than half the way (I could probably run more, but I'd rather ramp up slowly and not get myself discouraged about being exhausted). Respectable. Respectable. Certainly for someone who's been getting basically no exercise beyond walking to classes for about two years. I am, however, letting myself of of other exercises for the night. Heh.
Well. I'm good and depressed. How the hell did that happen? Part of it was the extensive session of Narahara-san pointing out my common Japanese errors in the car on the way home. But it wouldn't have upset me if I hadn't been in such a funk the last week or two. Blah.
I was going to get lots of work done this afternoon. But then they came to change my computer. I now have a laptop, which pisses me off. I used to use the computer as a semi-wall between me and Shiojiri-san, which I can no longer do. And I HATE laptop keyboards. I did find out that I'm free to take it home with me if I want, but without the internet, I'm not that enthused about the idea. And then it turned out that the IT deptartment, in their infinite wisdom, handed me a totally company-configured, but completely unpatched Win2K box. Sigh. And the network was as slow as could possibly be. Not like I couldn't have done work while I was updating, but suffice to say that I didn't. Mostly because I kept on expecting to be done within the next 10 minutes. And then I wasn't. And then Narahara-san teased me for being tired even though I spent all afternoon doing nothing but updating my machine.
Gawwwd I'm grumpy.
I just can't write anything, don't feel like reading, can barely concentrate on the Matthew Broderick mobster movie that's on... I'd feel much better if Masuda-san was around so that I could at least ask her the questions I want to get out of the way, that'd be one thing off my mind. I'm in one of those terrible stressful moods where I feel like I have a mountain of worries sitting above my head, just waiting to topple over.
Well, questions were asked, and it looks like if Andrew and Mike are here over the weekend, they can chill in one of the guest rooms at my dorm for sen en (about 8.50$) for a night each, SWEET. I think Masuda-san said that they'd only charge them the cost of sheets for a second night, so another 100 yen each? But even if it was another 1000 yen, whatever.
(sweating) Coming home sucks. I come in the door and it's blessedly cool, which is tricks, tricks! Because the AC in the public areas of the dorm is only in the foyer and the cafeteria... so I snag my slippers and head back to the girls' staircase, the air getting heavier with each step, and as I round the corner and set my foot on the first step, it settles down around me like a shroud, choking off my breath. The farther up the stairs you go, the worse it is, and the hallway is so hot that I fear for my ability to make to my door. I wonder what The Mouse would think, to open her door to go gargle (she does it seriously like four times a night, and I've seen her doing it at work too) and find me collapsed outside? Heh.
Bonus points to anyone who can hook me up with the dance mix of Elvis Presley's "Rubberneckin" that they were just playing on TV as some sort of bizarre intro to a Japanese news program's sports section. At least an idea of who did it. It had a similar feel as the JXL "Little Less Conversation" mix, although a little more dance-y and a little less techno-y. Bah, not that I'll get a response. I should email Zach and have him ask his readers, hehe.
Watching the Mariners highlight show at night is almost better than watching the games on the weekends... It doesn't take nearly as much time, and they show every pitch that matters, and in the case of a tie, every pitch that could matter (you, the viewer, don't know until they either strike out or connect what will happen). They cut it to fit within an hour; if there's not enough game action, they fill up the rest of the time with after-game interviews with Sasaki, Shiggy, and Ichiro, or commentary on the other Japanese MLB players; it's a good little show. On the other hand, it's a weird chopped up game, and I miss the Seattle announcers.
Oh good lord, they play country as the background music for the fishing show I've stumbled across twice now. Hehe... "Kiss League Round," where people arm wrestle No Kiss Man... If they win, they get to kiss the famous singer, but if No Kiss Man wins, they go home in shame. The match takes place in front of dozens of men chanting "NO KISS NO KISS NO KISS!" (laughing)
Alright, I think we've definitively determined that only getting five hours of sleep, the last hour of which is spent tossing and turning, is bad, mmmkay?
Dinner tonight was one of my favorites, as if to make up for the monstrosities that they fed me yesterday as part of the regular Monday torture. Breaded and fried white fish with lemon and tartar sauce and super delicious cream of cauliflower soup almost, ALMOST has me forgiving them. Almost.
I heard from Tomoko that the dorm "beer party" this Saturday is Chinese-themed, with a crazy delicious Chinese menu planned. The cooks here are at their best with Chinese-style food, so it's going to be tasty. This weekend should be interesting... There's a labor union "beer party" (I just think it's so funny when they call it that... or beeru paateii, rather) on Friday after work that I'm planning on heading to, so it seems as if much alcohol will likely go through me before the weekend's up.
And, AND, I know I mentioned it yesterday, but Andrew should be coming to visit! He's not really sure when he'll be in town, but it sounds like he and his friend will be rolling in Friday or Saturday (he trumps the labor union gig if he gets here on Friday, and they're invited to my dorm if they're around on Saturday, heh). I can't wait to see him; a proper geek friend will do me wonders. Particularly a geek friend who was stoked about the possibility of going clubbing with Markus, hehe.
I poked around the Hankyuu Department Store a little bit on my way home, but I think I'm going to have to go down to Amerikamura after work in the next couple days to find what I want. That is the problem, there's something I have particularly in mind, which is the worst way to go shopping, because then nothing else will do. I have in mind a very short sleeved (almost tank-top short) form fitting tee, similar to the one I got used this weekend; for some reason, I'll be most pleased if I can find it in camo, but I'll settle for Engrish. I almost went for one at Hankyuu that said "I (heart) BOYS," but they only had it in ubersmall, piss. It might have fit... if I had no breasts.
I stopped by the shoe store that's on my way home and asked if the guy could tell me what size my feet are in Japan-land. I should probably do well to remember it permanently, considering American shoe sizes are ONLY American (24 cm long, 23 cm around at the widest part, and my right foot, as I'd always thought, is in fact slightly larger than my left). I'm thinking of getting a pair of sandal-y type dressy shoes for when I don't want to wear my boot-y type ones. Heh. Booty.
I don't really know what's up with this newfound desire to buy clothes. I don't think I verbalized it here before this week, but it's been hanging around for the last two or three at least. I guess when I don't have anything else to occupy my mind, I finally revert a little to girlness? Who knows.
Hehe, we're slamming the poor Hiroshima Carp into the ground and I'm singing along with the crowd from home. Silly Japanese baseball. I should go get a tape or two and record part of a game as part of the samples of Japanese TV I'm planning on bringing back.
Work today was largely spent on email. All the people who didn't email me yesterday decide to time their communications so that I had a ridiculous number of letters when I came in this morning. Conisdering that I'm still feeling grumpy about work, I didn't mind. I finally started doing something productive around, oh, 2 pm. I'm terrible. But I've got a new direction to go in (not anything better than before, but I decided to move to one of the other things I'm supposed to be modelling, so I'll be starting from the ground up testing input variables and such), so I should be able to motivate myself over the next few days into actually, you know, working, again.
Things that were beautiful on my run tonight: Senrigawa bubbling over the rocks to my side. An enormous bird of some sort gliding right above the surface of the water. Mars being bright enough to glint through the light cloud cover above. Running north towards the distant thunderstorm that was flashing lightning every few seconds. Bats eating mosquitoes that would otherwise be eating me. Opening up into a loping run for two stretches that approximated the way I run in my dreams.
Things that are wonderful to come home to: air conditioning. A half bottle of Amino Supli (Gatorade type drink), exactly the amount that I wanted to drink. The Blues Brothers on TV right at the scene in the country-western bar where they sing Rawhide. Although it's weird how they subtitle the various song lyrics, but none of the dialog.
Shopping is never as depressing as when you go and can't find anything your size. Particularly when the largest pair of pants you can find is a full five and a half inches smaller than you wear (and you only find one pair that large... all the rest are at very least six and a half inches too small). I knew it'd be like that, of course, but I was hoping anyway. I find it unfair that I can find shirts to wear just fine, but that my ass doesn't have a hope of fitting down Japanese jeans. I'm thinking of heading back down to Amerikamura after the next couple weekends (hopefully, crossing fingers, I'll be hanging out with Andrew this weekend, and the weekend after that my dad's here), and while most things down there will likely be too small, there's enough shops so that I can continue to hope. Not all Japanese girls have 26 inch waists. Just nearly all of them.
Narahara-san picked an impeccable day, as usual, to randomly drive by and give me a ride to work. My bag was heavy as fuck (I took the big ass jar of dried cherries that my mommy sent me to work) and I was tired and cranky to boot. I think that it's a weight imbalance in the stuff I'm packing that's causing the weird cramping in my left foot; it was killing me on my way home tonight, but when I ran out to go to the bank without my water bottle and with a couple other things taken out of my bag, it was miraculously not hurting. Hrm.
There is a 270 kg man singing a laidback hula song on Hey! Hey! Hey! The hosts are small by Japanese standards anyway, and usually look pretty dwarfish next to their guests, but this is just getting to ridiculous proportions.
I was feeling spectacularly unenthused about working today (which is becoming something of a habit) so I spent pretty much all morning and a good part of the afternoon formatting and reformatting my spreadsheets of DOOM. I learned about conditional formatting, which I'd always assumed Excel just didn't have (it does, in a kind of sillily implemented way... is sillily even a word? I doubt it). I justify it in that I worked out a good way to get more out of the gobs of data I'm generating without having to actually read through it all. I also discovered that there are four samples that have never, out of the hundreds of times that I've modelled the set, been predicted correctly. They have some particular characteristics in common, so I'll need to look more into that tomorrow. I also nailed down some other loose ends this afternoon in terms of ensuring that alternate methods do not in fact produce better results, so I suppose I can't exactly say I wasted my day. But I could have been several times much more productive, let's leave it at that.
I get a kick out of the "Love & Teeth" mint gum commercial with the trippy Jimi-inspired guitarist jamming in front of the icy teeth. "Love and teeth," is, by the way, the only thing he actually utters during the commercial. Heh. Other commercials I like: the "Weider! In morning!" energy drink ones featuring my second favorite Smap member, Kimura, although it is slightly ridiclous to imagine him as the "working man" they've got him cast as in that series. The Gatsby hair dye commercial with the mohawked fashion punks singing "If you're happy and you know it" in Japanese, spreading their mohawks apart and clapping them together instead of their hands is also quite golden. It's really quite surreal.
My grandparents sent me a wonderful early birthday card, complete with some pictures of the ranch and them with the dogs. I went running right down to show Masuda-san, who had refused to believe me when I told her how big Wolfies are, heh. She was in raptures over both the pictures of the dogs (who she still can't quite believe) and the ones of the pasture back up behind Grandpa and Grandma's house; she said that if she went to Colorado once she'd probably never return. I don't doubt it... if I weren't so unwilling to give up my friends in Seatle, I'd move to Boulder in a heartbeat.
Going down to fill my water bottle pays off cha-CHING!. If Andrew and I don't meet up this weekend, Markus suggested that I head out to a club with him. Fear not again, those who worry for my chastity: he also has a Japanese girlfriend, natch. If there's one thing I've learned over the past few years of studying Japan, it's that if a white guy stays in Japan more than a year, he's got a Japanese girlfriend. Now, this is partially due to the fact that there's simply many more Japanese women around than not. However, I strongly suspect it also has something to do with the fact that the sort of guy who is willing to stay here is especially prone to wanting a bombass Asian chick. Man. I hadn't thought of the phrase "bombass Asian chick" in forever... I wonder what Jaysun is doing these days.