Monday - 20 Jan 2003
Day 6 (January 20)
Today, January 20, 2003, is my 21 st birthday *pause for applause*. Now, all of you Americans out there know that this is a HUGE birthday. Mainly because you can buy and drink liquor...but, I can also rent cars (not as cool as the beer thing, but not a bad perk either). My family told me to hurry home from school--the first day, by the way--so that we can go to "kaitenzushi". I.m not sure how it.s spelled, but it.s where they serve sushi on conveyor belts. They knew that I.d been itching to go, so they were gonna take me. We went out and had a great time. I tried some crab brain sushi...not bad. We toasted with warm sake. I had a great time. When we got home, we ate some cakes that my mom had gotten from a local bakery. They were beautiful. They really made me feel loved and special.
Unfortunately, after I got home, I had to do my homework. It all went downhill from there. My mom helped me out, but I later went to my room and cried. I started out crying for my homework, but later I cried for my homesickness, I cried (a lot) for my 21st birthday--which I.d been planning since I was, like, 8...I just cried. I haven.t been getting much sleep. Little would I know how much crying I.d do over my homework. Luckily, I have teh 3rd floor to myself.
I got up this morning at 4am. I.m tired of fighting the insomnia. I watched the sun rise over my veranda while sitting in the dark, wrapped in a blanket. Now, I know the whole "land of the rising sun" is cliched, but it really was amazing. It came up over the mountains and burned a red trail through the morning fog. It rose right over the smokestacks of the local tissue plant. Now, being from Pittsburgh, I can appreciate the beauty of smokestacks. The one at teh Nepia plant are painted with orange and red stripes. There are three and at any time you can see thick white smoke billowing up into the sky. As the sun came up and the sky brightened, it looked like the smokestacks were making the clouds. Ah, Nepia, my own little cloud-company. Every time I look at it I feel content.
It rained today. My parents told me I should walk to the station because it.s too hard to bicycle while holding an umbrella. OK. Little did I know, the umbrella wouldn.t help. You see, rain isn.t vertical in Japan. It.s horizontal. You don.t need an umbrella, you need a tarp. When I got to the station, I discovered that I wasn.t the only one who disliked the rain. It turns out that all of the people who usually bike to work had decided to take the train. A thousand hot, wet people squished into a thin metal tube going 60 mph. mmm...squishy.
The little girl and I are getting along well. We.ve been playing a lot of games and she.s improving my vocabulary. Now, she likes to wander into my room in the mornings with her stuffed animals so that we can play. This is very cute, however, since she doesn.t knock this can be challenging. It.s led to all kinds of new skills. I.ve learned how to change clothing in record time, for instance.
My mother was talking to her friend on the phone. She kept telling her how smart I am and how I study all the time. That.s right, she still doesn.t know how much Japanese I speak. Not to worry.
The grandfather continues to make fun of me in Japanese because he doesn.t think I can understand. I really want to laugh, because he.s funny, but I can.t because then he.ll find out that I.m not an idiot. The mother sticks up for me though... My family is so cool. I have yet to meet the grandmother who.s supposed to live with us. First she was working all day at her restaurant nearby. Then, she was off visiting her sick mother in the provinces. If you ask me, they killed the woman, rolled her up in her futon, and stuck her in a cabinet. I.m worried. Very worried.
My parents took me to see kake,uh, something -something. Traditional Japanese wall-hangings. They were beautiful but horribly expensive. Some of them, done by buddhist monks, were being sold for $8,000 American. Wow. I was afraid to move, but my parents didn.t even bat an eye when my little sister went tearing around the room singing. Wow, parenting is sure different here. Even the salespeople didn.t seem to notice. I.m starting to see a pattern. If something is irritating, I.m supposed to ignore it. Can do.
I also went to a model house sho-place and saw a traditional Japan-style house. It was pretty cool. My family is less-than-traditional, so this was an interesting experience.