Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Another Un-Halloween

Halloween in Japan is lame. I said it last year and I am saying it this year. I wish the Japanese liked Halloween more.

Since there is nothing cool happening, I am guessing I will end up watching a couple of horror movies and then going to bed. What a spiffy Halloween.

In other news, the flu that I said I had in the last post, well, I still have it. It is a very strange little bug though. I feel good, like I have no flu symptoms whatsoever other than one thing that can involve frequent trips to the bathroom, if you get my drift. I don't understand why I can't shake it and it is actually starting to worry me for a couple of reasons. I tried to go to the hospital today because there is an English speaking doctor that works there but they have a rule that unless it is an emergency, they don't register first time customers after 11am. Part of me also wonders if I have the flu at all anymore and if it is my worrying and nerves that are keeping stuff from getting back to normal.

Speaking of worrying and nerves, I have stupid micro-blisters all over my hands and fingers. When I get stressed or sick, sometimes I get these tiny tiny blisters underneath my skin on my hands and sometimes my feet. Thanks to all of my being bothered now, I have them really bad. It feels like I am wearing gloves all the time and while they don't hurt, the whole thing is quite annoying. It just bugs me that I haven't ditched this flu for going on a week. I am never sick for this long.

I think I would actually be more worried if Toby hadn't been sick too. Toby was actually so bad that he became dehydrated and had to go to the hospital. Fortunately, they got him on meds and he is much better now. I just wish I could feel better. It is times like this when I wish I could just quit, pack up, and come back to the US now. I think Toby has also been feeling this way. He did not want to be placed in Fukuchiyama and is now realizing how far removed from everything we are here. He is homesick and keeps talking about food he wants and this is not helping me at all.

Only two months and twenty-seven days until I can come back and get on with life.

Update: I just got off the phone with Maya and she is picking me up at 8:30am to go to a private hospital she said may be faster than the other one I was trying to go to. I know how much Toby paid for his visit and I was cool with that, I hope this isn't a ton more. But at least the problem will get dealt with and I can stop worrying about it.

Happy Halloween 2007!!!

Since I can't carve a pumpkin this year, I drew a goofy picture instead.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yakitori, Booze, The Flu, and The New Guy

Since Monday, I have been busy.

My boss called around noon that day and told me he had finally gotten into my town and that the new guy would be here shortly as well. The movers had already arrived with the new guy's stuff and I needed to go down and let them know that they guy with the apartment key would be there soon.

The new guy is named, Toby by the way.

As it turns out, Toby has broken the mold and is not like 80% of all other foreigners in Japan. He is actually kind of normal and since his arrival we have gotten along very well.

Anywho, after Toby got all of his stuff moved in and settled a bit, we decided it was time to find dinner. So my boss, Toby, and I set off to get food. While walking toward the area of town that has most of the eateries and restaurants, we passed a very good yakitori place that I love but it seems like the place is never open. The three of us decided that yakitori sounded good and so we went inside to eat all sorts of chicken parts cooked in all sorts of ways.

With the eating came the drinking. Before even going into the restaurant, we had already had a couple of beers each and while eating we tacked a few more on as well. We also had a drink called ume-shu that was tasty. It is a liquor made from the pickled plums I am so fond of, very tasty. Anywho, by the time we were done eating we had all had a bit too much to drink.

Which probably led to my getting the flu. I had already had a bug of some sort before that night but after the yakitori, I got hit hard by the flu and it still has not left me. So I have been sick for a few days now and it kind of sucks but what do you do? Last night especially, after Toby left to go to bed, I went to sleep too but it was more of one of those deep sickly, fevery, sleeps where you dream weird dreams and wake up at odd intervals. I think I may have had a fever and it broke while I was asleep because at one point I woke up and was super hot but not sweating and then the next time I woke up I was drenched in sweat.

One other thing of note happened this week. Two nights ago, while walking back to the train station, I found the Japanese equivalent of a $50 bill. To celebrate my good fortune, I called Toby and took him out to eat at a ramen place near the apartment. The new people are really strapped for cash when they come to Japan so I have been trying to help Toby out a little here and there. I figure if I treat him well, he will treat my replacement the same way. It is very strange to have another person to talk to now. I have found it is also somewhat tiring, though that could just be the flu too.

Well, I am going to tie this up. I still feel loopy and I need to get to the bank to see what I have in the way of money, seeing that I got paid today.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Fair Day, Nothing Great

Today, like the past few days, has been pretty boring. There isn't a ton to do in my town and I don't have the most money in the world to spend on train fare to leave it, so I sit around in my apartment and stare at the computer screen most of the time.

Yesterday, I noticed a sign that stating that a fair was being held this weekend so I decided to check it out today. After riding around town for an hour trying to figure out where the dang thing was I figured out it was in the one place I didn't look and that there was a shuttle going there every half an hour. Since I had been riding my bike for a while and the shuttle was free, I jumped on and was wheeled off to the fair.

This fair was like one of those Fall home expo things and so it wasn't horribly interesting. I did get to look inside a 2008 Nissan Skyline 370GT and that was nice, it was the equivalent of $40k USD but it was nice. There was also a flea market thingy and I looked around it too.

At this point I should mention that I was the only white guy there. I am used to that by now but what drives me up a wall is that being white makes me a target for every ambitious sales person and marketing rep trying to hawk whatever it is that people sell at these things.

I had a couple of guys try to speak kind of sort of English to me and try to convince me I needed some obscure British pop band's vinyl records. They also tried to sell me a sweatshirt and pair of jeans and when I told them that both clothing items were a little small for me, their girlfriends laughed at them. After a few more seconds of playing around with them I broke free to see what else was around.

I found the food court and there wasn't anything special there that I wanted. No Baby Castellas. After the food court I went into the expo building and was again the target of every booth in the venue. I was forced to play darts against some school kid. People attempted to usher me into their little booths to hear some sales pitch. Craft makers wanted me to buy one of their little wooden sculptures. The Sharp sales reps wanted me to buy an LCD screen. The phone people wanted me to buy a phone. And as I thought I was home free and basically running for the exit, a guy stopped me and wanted me to fill out a survey as to how the expo was.

As soon as I was out the door, I headed for the shuttle to get away from there as fast as possible.

A couple of days ago, my doorbell rang and the guy for Japanese Public Television was standing there. These guys annoy the daylights out of me. Basically, Japanese Public Television or NHK as it is called here is the same crap that American Public Television has on it, just in a language that I only understand half of the time. The difference is how the companies get their funding. In the US, they get a small government stipend and a bunch of private donations to keep them running and churning out shows like Bob Ross and Sesame St. In Japan, they send guys door to door who's sole job is to try to guilt you and strong arm you into paying them for watching their programming.

Last year, the guy came to my door and tried to get into my apartment. Seeing that I make a better wall than a window, he was unsuccessful but continued to ask me if I watched television and all while trying to peer around me to see in my apartment to see if he could spot a TV somewhere. I do have a TV, it is in my closet. I have never turned it on. Last year's guy wouldn't take "No" for an answer though and asked if I had a computer and if it had a TV card in it. He was smart but since he couldn't see any cable wires, he had to take my word for it when I told him no yet again.

This year's guy wasn't as determined and my Japanese was better so it was pretty quick. He asked if I watched TV and I straight up told him no and then went on to say that I didn't even own one. That was that. The funny part is this year, I do have a TV and it is a TV card inside my computer. But, he didn't ask about that this time so I didn't offer it up.

I guess if you say, yes, they get all cooky and try to force money out of you and put you on a payment plan to fund their "free" service. They also come during a time when it is most likely to be just women and kids home, thus giving them easier prey to fed off of. Can you imagine PBS trying to send out henchmen to collect from Americans? Can you imagine some of the conversations they would have? It wouldn't happen and I am sure not going to let them try it on me here either.

Anywho, not much else has gone on. I taught my last week in one of my classes before the new guy takes it over. I haven't met him yet but for now, I have named him, Adventure Monkey. If I end up liking him, I may actually call him by his name but until then, he is Adventure Monkey. I meet him tomorrow so it should be interesting. At least now, I will have someone else in this town to speak English long as I like him and he doesn't drive me crazy like most other white people do here. We shall see I guess.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

10 Things

In response to Singe_ID tagging me for this, I am making a list of ten things that have made me happy recently. Here we go:

1. Today, is one day closer to me coming back to the US and seeing everyone and
everything I have missed for two years.

2. Everything is squared away and I am going to be coming back to my 2005 Toyota
Matrix XRS when I return to the US.

3. The trees are starting to change color which means that my favorite season is

4. I realized Halloween is two weeks away today and that made me smile.

5. This week is my last week dealing with the demon children in one of the classes
that I am leaving in order to be the first teacher to start a new class in another

6. Be it the fact that they actually like me or what I let them get away with, many
of the kids seem legitimately sad or concerned to see me go. Some of the parents
have also told me how disappointed they were when they learned I was being moved.
While I am not overly fond of most of their kids, I do appreciate the sentiment
coming from the parents.

7. I started playing the Sims 2 again yesterday, the evil and mischief is already
spreading. (^_^)

8. I realized today that despite all of the big stuff that is getting ready to happen
again with the move and lack of a job and all, I am not afraid. I am not afraid of
any of it. At this point in my life, I have more self-confidence than I think I
ever have. I am not afraid because I am naive, I am fearless because I know I can

9. Lately, my Flickr page has been attracting a lot of attention and while I could
care less about the comments I receive, it makes me happy when people pick my
picture to add to their collection of favorites and it has been happening more
lately. Many people are also adding me to their list of contacts so they can see
all of the new stuff I upload. I may not be making money but at least I am seeing
proof the people like my stuff and that some of what I shoot may actually be good
looking to people other than me.

10. You know how sometimes you buy a pop and it tastes exceptionally good despite the
fact it is just one of the millions of Coca Cola beverages made from the same
recipe as all of the others sitting on the shelf. But for some reason, the Coke
you are drinking tastes really really good. That happened to me today.

If you want to do this on your own blog, go nuts. I am not going to tag anyone to do this but if you do pick this up, let me know in the comments so I can read it too.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Taste Of Home

When I came to Japan,I left behind a lot of stuff. One thing I was glad to ditch was the stress. Work. Car Payments. Cell Phones. Insurance Payments. Rent/Mortgage. The expectations of my peers. Constantly having to be someone and doing something. Just everything. I am starting to remember that feeling again and I don't like it one bit.

Last night, right before bedtime, I finally got to chat with the guy that has my car. We got all of the financial details worked out and as I type this, my car is now covered and resting happily in a garage, patiently awaiting my return. I am for sure getting my beloved 2005 Matrix XRS back when I return. This is excellent new and an excellent situation all around. Its the car I want for a dang good price and now I do not have to worry about finding a car when I get back.

With the car though, comes the fact that I am going to need to get an auto loan within a few days of me getting back to Idaho. Since banks normally like lending money to people with jobs, I am going to have to find something post haste upon landing. Whether it is working at a movie rental place or well...anywhere, I am going to need a job. Just the thought of having to immediately jump into a job that I will most likely not have for very long worries me. The fact that I probably won't overly enjoy whatever job I may get further dismays me a tad. But I need a job.

Jobs like to have a way to contact you so this means I will need a cell phone. One more thing to add to the list. Cell phones, like cars, like it when you pay their bills on time so this comes back to needing a job. Do you see where I am going with this? I am not going to say that the last two years have been a vacation but they have been pretty darned easy and now I am jumping back into American culture and all of the good stuff and bad stuff that comes with it. So much for easing myself back into it all.

So I guess the bottom line is, if you know somewhere, anywhere that needs a guy to do something and will pay to have me do it, let me know. I don't know how likely it is but I would like to have something lined up when I land. Will this happen, I kind of doubt it but with an employment rate as low as Boise's, I am sure I can find something to get the money flowing until something I really want to do comes along.

And because asking for a job isn't enough, if you have a spare house or apartment sitting around, let me know and I will take that off your hands too. (^_^)

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Mellowness of Japanese Steak

In my pre-emptive attempt to woo and ahh the single women of Idaho, or any other state for that matter; I have started experimenting with cooking Japanese cuisine.

Last night, I tried to grill some rice balls using several different sauces and topping and the results were not what I was hoping. I think I figured out why though so I will try again soon. I also stumbled on a way to flavor steak that is very tasty and requires that the steak be wrapped over night while covered in a paste. The result is very tasty and very mellow. It is a Japanese flavor that makes it blend very well with rice and beer...especially beer and I have not ever had a steak with this mellowness and flavor. Overall, I would say it was pretty darned good. The beer was also good in fact that I am having seconds right now.

Sunday or Monday, I plan on trying a new chicken recipe to see how that works out and I may also try to tempura lotus root and see how that turns out. I have had tempura'd lotus root before and it was quite tasty...though I may be allergic to it. Either way, barring that my through closes up and I die, I will post my the results of my further culinary experimentation.

Did I mention that that steak had a very mellow flavor? I think it was the sake.

This was pretty much me tonight...minus the fire...and people....and the red hat...and the Japanese guy. Ok, this wasn't me at all.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

This Is So Stupid

It is 7:20am and I am fully awake. Beh.

Somehow in my blissful sleep, another one of my loathed Costco dreams sneaked in. This time, instead of dreaming about a normal eight hour shift of boredom and semi-retarded customers, I imagined I was asking for my job back. This dream so aggravated me that I actually woke up from 6:30am. I have not been able to go back to sleep and there is nothing to do at this time of the day. I have actually been tidying up my house. Since 6:30am.

Freaking Costco!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Worked Up Over Nothing

That seems to be me lately.

The smallest things are starting to set me off and I am not sure why, probably because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I just want to get out of here. I remember feeling like this before I came here too.

Anywho, today I put my finger on one thing that has been slowly eating at me. I have been here for two years basically. You would think that after that span of time, you would stop having cravings for food and other things that you know you can't have or get. This is not the case. I am not sure what I would do right now if I knew I would be rewarded with a pan crusted Pizza Hut Canadian bacon pizza and maybe some of their bread sticks. I could also go for pressed almond chicken with fried rice from Twin Dragon. While we are at it, orange chicken from Wok King would rock too. Hell, at this point a couple of crisp meat and cheese tacos with some tater tots from Taco Bell sounds good. The thing is, when I get a hankering for something, I have to find a substitute for it. Sometimes, the substitutes suck when compared to the real thing and it is just driving me nuts that I can't get the real deal. I am sick of settling for crappy alternatives, I want what I want and nothing else.

The nice part is that in three months and twenty some odd days, I can have them. The downside to that is for the first week or two I am back I am going to be sick. The Asian stuff I want, I think I will be okay with but the pizza...not sure on that one. There are also homemade things that I have been wanting but can't make do to the lack of a civilized kitchen. My chicken parmesan, a steak, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, ginger snaps, cookie dough, etc. You get the picture. For the first few days I am back, my parents or my brother will have thought Betty Crocker moved in with them. I just want to be able to cook without limitations; I miss that.

The other thing that has been getting under my skin is the guy that is selling my car back to me. I have emailed him twice now and still no response. My dad has talked to him and everything still sounds like it is a go but jeeze, how much effort is it to email a guy back when he is willing to give you money? I like things cut and dry, black and white, I like being sure that things I expect to be happening are indeed happening. When I just get this "pretty sure" stuff it makes me want kick something. This is my car we are talking about here, I want a "Yup, send me X amount of dollars and we are good to go, see ya in January." It isn't that hard to do.

Anywho, aside from all of that, I have been messing around with a lot of photography stuff lately. I am getting to do some black and white shots I have wanted to do for a while and I am learning more about tweaking things in Photoshop to get them just right. I will end this post and leave you with some of the pictures I have been taking lately.

This is a shot I took while Ben was here. When I took it, thanks to the glass in front of me, there was a lot of glare. Fortunately, after a few hours of work, it looks just like it should. That is the Tokyo Tower by the way.

This little guy was at a shrine I took Ben to while he was here. I took this pic specifically to turn into a black and white and I like how it turned out. He looks so happy.

Lastly, there is this guy. I call him the Whistler. If these statues were real people, I like to imagine they are all waiting at a crosswalk doing their own thing and then there is one in the middle that is happily whistling to himself. Or maybe I am just a nut.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Re-uniting With An Old Friend

When I left for Japan almost two years ago, I left behind my family, my friends, most things familiar to me, and my 2005 Toyota Matrix XRS. In February of 2006, my Matrix sold to a person that had dealings with my family and they were very happy with my precious black car/SUV/hatchback thingy. I figured that the last time I would ever drive the car was the time right before I left to come here and wrote it off as the best car I had ever had...for six months. As it turns out, I may have been wrong. (^_^)

The family that owns my car now just had a new baby and are looking to get something more soccer mom-ish aka a minivan. He loves my Matrix too but he can't afford payments on three cars right now and so a week or two ago, he put a listing on Craigslist for my black, six speed bundle of joy. Oddly enough, he called my dad a few days ago and my dad got a feeling he may be looking to part ways with my car. So my dad emailed him and low and behold, he was indeed trying to abandon my Matrix, to a stranger none-the-less. The cool part was that he understood I regretted having to sell the car when I did and that he may be willing to hold on to it for me until I come back.

I just shot him off an email, telling him I want to make this work and that I would love to have my car back in January. Hopefully, he is speedy with emails and I will hear back from him soon. I am giddy just thinking that I get to have my car back. The other cool part is that he is willing to part with the car for a very reasonable chunk of money, less than what I was expecting to pay for a car when I come back, and he has only put 17k miles on it since I sold it to him. I also have good reason to believe that the car is in pretty much the same condition as when I sold it to him, his family doesn't smoke and they have loved it like I did.

So anywho, I have something to be happy about today and one more thing to possibly look forward to when I come back.

Only three months and twenty some odd days until I am hopefully driving you once again, little buddy.