Monday - 27 Jan 2003
Day 13 (January 27)
When I woke up this morning, I wasn.t sure I.d be able to stomach another week of school. It wasn.t so bad though. And anyway, no matter how badly language class is going, I always have my afternoon relazation classes. I still can.t sleep. Since I have a 10 o.clock curfew, I tend to go to bed around 10.30pm. Then, since I.m used to getting about 5 hours of sleep a night, I wake up around 2 or 3am. My poor body is so confused.
I met Obaa-chan (the grandmother) today. She is really sweet and takes the time to speak to me slowly. I.m so happy that I can carry on a normal coversation with someone. And she brought yummy snacks as omiyage (souvenirs) from her trip. Mmmmm....Japanese snacks are the best. We had tea time and she told my mom in Japanese that I am cute. Did I mention that I like her?
I.m doing final registration tomorrow. I.m nervous about being locked into my classes, butit.ll be OK. Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) is awesome. It.s just so nice to sit and arrange flowers for 2 hours. Shodo (Calligraphy) is great, too, except I.m pretty sure that it.s not my calling. Oh well. Japanese Business is fun...and delightfully in English. I.m going first for our book reports next week. Can.t wait. In language class, I.m learning something new and helpful every day. Life is good.
I was quietly doing my homework this evening, waiting for dinner, when I hear the opening notes of Madonna.s "Like a Virgin" coming from the TV. Knowing how whacked-out Japanese television is, I was afraid to look. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I raised my head to see a giant pink clam revolving on the screen. As the song continued the clam opened and revealed a brand-new van inside. I was a little confused and kind of worried. Japanese TV doesn.t make sense! It just doesn.t make sense!
I.ve been making it a point to try a new Japanese snack everyday. I.ve had Collon Creams (pronounced Colon) in both vanilla and chocolate. They are these little tubes filled with brown or white cream. Yeah, the name just makes it sooo appetizing, huh? I.ve also tried Asse (pronounced As-say). Now, to Japanese people it.s As-say, but to me, that.s just plain ass. It.s chocolate nougat covered in milk chocolate in a bar shape. Really good. It.s a seasonal item...only for the winter. I know nothing gets me going on a cold winter day like a nice piece of ass *snicker, snicker* Oh, yeah, we English-speakers ahd a field-day with this one. I.ve been designated the fun-food-finder. I love Japan.
The smell of my morning train is getting worse. No matter which way I turn my head, I.m forced to suck in someone else.s bad breath. Note, I.m not making fun, I.m just stating a fact. It.s getting so bad I think I.m going to buy one of those little white masks people sometimes where when they have a cold. Everyone.s coughing and hacking is making me nervous, too. I can only wonder what plague I.m being exposed to.
The definition of sanitary is not absolute. Often times, public restrooms here don.t have soap (or toilet paper, but that.s another story). They never have hot water. So, basically, you.re going to the bathroom, eww, not really washing your hands, eww, and then going out into the world. Yucko-o. I.m kind of glad hand-shaking isn.t done very much.
Also on the plus-side, people here don.t really touch their food, so at least no one is eating the filth.
Nobody is really concerned about hand washing at all, so when my host sister (the proud owner of 3-week cold) bursts into my room and touches everything, I.m inclined to groan. Not to worry though. That.s nothing a little soap and water can.t fix. However, If anyone would like to send me some hand-sanitizer, I wouldn.t object...
Sooo drunk with Jo, Cody, Heidi, Jo & (Ali w/cam)
Tonight I.m going to Sakae (a few subway stops from school) with some friends. We.re going to a nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) karaoke bar. I can.t wait. Then I.m going to an all-night party thing. 1am-8am in Sakae. It sounds like fun, but my host-mom looked me like I was crazy when I told her. Well, "told" is a strong word. I pretty much asked her if it was OK. There.s something about living with a family that makes me feel like I.m 12 again. Anyway, she gave me her blessing and so it.s off I go. By the way. I finally managed to communicate with my real American family today. It was the first time because no one ever picks up. I made sure that they.d be home by calling at 6am. *evil laugh* it worked. It was nice to talk to the parents. I miss my family much.
Bathroom Post-Karaoke Party (Heidi, Jo, Me)
Day 17 (cont.d)
Well, Sakae was a blast, but I never made it to the all-night party. However, Trey said that it was kind of a killer. By 5am he was ready to drop. I met my friends in Sakae and we browsed at local stores. I bought a CD that was on sale (I.m an Ayumi Hamasaki fan. My host mother makes fun of me, but it.s like a sickness). Then we all went off to dinner and then on to karaoke. We rented a private room for 2 hours in this neon pink party building. We.re talking flashy. All the drinks were included in the price, but the catch was, you had to be able to decipher the katakana (Japanese characters). Not a problem; desperation breeds genius. I highly recommend the peach tree fizz, pink christmas, and hobbit. I didn.t know that you could drink hobbits, but apparently you can. Everyone had a great time singing Japanese and English songs. Okay, so it was more like slurring Japanese and English songs by the end of the night, but hey, I was celebrating my 21st birthday. We staggered off to the subway where a game of It-tag commenced. Yeah, I.m sure we annoyed people. Since we were singing and dancing on the subway, I miss my stop at Tsurumai. My friends ejected me at another stop and I found my way to my home town and called my host family for a ride. The next morning, my host mom said that I had had a great conversation with my host dad on the way home, but I couldn.t really remember anything. She laughed. I was kind of hung-over. She laughed. When I was still hung-over Sunday, everybody laughed. And, as always, Ojii-chan made fun of me. Good times. However, from now on, moderation is my middle name.
Jo fishing for me in the train station on way home
Hung-over. Very hung-over. Why won.t the kids be quiet? Why, Lord, why?! Today was Ojii-chan.s birthday, so I snuck off to the local department store (Saty) to buy him a card. On the way, I realized that my lack of Japanese-language know-how might be a problem. Then I realized that I didn.t even have my dictionary. I.ve pretty much stopped carrying it. It.s much more fun to point and grunt. Well, I got to the store, found a birthday card I could read, and got help writing a message from the customer service desk people. It went something like this:
Happy birthday, Ojii-chan! You.re a great grampa. Thanks for always buying me candy and for helping me make my breakfast. You.re so good to me.
Binky (the name I.m using in Japan because my REAL name is impossible for many English speakers)
It wasn.t the most intellectually stimulating card, but he giggled when he read it. Good times. We went out for Chinese food to celebrate and finished the evening with cute little Japanese cakes. Yummy.
Still hung-over. My mother suggested that next time I go out drinking I have a beer for breakfast the next morning. There.s even a word for that in Japan (mukaezaki: the alcohol that comes to meet you). I didn.t know that concept was international. Who knew? I went to the Nagoya aquarium with my family today. My mother put me on Miku-watch. Man, kids are slippery little things. OK, so you know you.re in an island nation when everyone looks at the swimming fish and exclaims "Oishisoo!" ("Yummyyyyyy"). It was really funny, but I couldn.t help but join in when I saw the jelly fish. Quite tasty. Did you know that squid swim horizontally? I didn.t. Big surprise. Almost everything there was edible. Then we went to this ramen place. Surprisingly, I don.t really like the ramen in Japan.
It.s Groundhog.s Day in the US, but good luck trying to explain this concept to Japanese people. I attempted to draw a groundhog, but it turned into a sheep. The second try yielded a hamster. But, i don.t know...if you make a hamster really big, isn.t that kind of like a ground hog? Write me a comment. Lemme know.