Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This Is How You Land On Your Feet

Before coming back to the United States, I had a pretty well thought out plan for how everything was going to go down when I returned to the country. Thanks to some luck and me being a veritable rock star of men, my plan has gone off without a hitch so far.

I had my job interview yesterday and found out today that I got the position. Starting late this week or early next week, I will be working for a small company that helps mentor and teach mostly kids with behavior issues. It sounds like a really nice group of people and it is a profession I had never pictured myself in but find the field intriguing nonetheless. It also pays pretty well and once I am full time there, I should be pretty comfortable. I pretty much knew that I had the job by the end of the interview

Which is good, considering that I should have my car by the end of the week. My baby, the 2005 Toyota Matrix XRS will soon be sitting in the driveway with me behind its wheel once again.

The new job requires me to have a phone and will pay for part of my monthly bill so yesterday I picked up an iPhone. Actually, my parents picked up the iPhone, as it was their Christmas present to me. I have to say, all of the hype that has surrounded this gadget is well worth it. The phone is simply amazing in terms of use and functionality. My only complaint is the size of the buttons when typing on it; with my big hands, it is easy for me to hit the wrong button. I think that will just take some practice though because I am getting better the more I use it.

My other new toy is an Xbox 360 Elite. I have wanted one forever and have held off until the day after I hit town and then I snagged one. It is a fun toy, though I feel a tad guilty for buying it. It used money that definitely could have gone toward something else more useful but well...yeah...I wanted an Xbox.

So right now I am feeling pretty good. It is strange to be back but I am taking measures to keep all of the stressful stuff to a minimum. I have found that if I don't have to interact with a ton of people, I end the day in a pretty good mood. People, especially those in the service industry, have been driving me nuts. They are just so different and more rude than the people I am used to dealing with.

I also have one other gripe. What in the hell is with all of the people(mostly women) walking around in public while in their pajamas? It drives me nuts. If you are going to leave your house, get dressed. It is a very simple practice that has been done for centuries, wake up, bathe, put on clothes, leave your house. It doesn't get easier than that but for some reason people insist on wearing pajamas outdoors. Stupid.

One thing I have grown to love about being back is taking trips to Walmart. If I need a boost, I stroll the aisles of that hollowed center for cheap food and odd people. I wouldn't say I am thin but after ten minutes of Walmart, I feel like I just came out of boot camp and the gym. Americans have gotten bigger in the last couple of years, much bigger. Combine pajamas with an abundance of flesh and you feel like you are at a sleep over hosted by McDonalds. Walking through Walmart makes me feel like Brad Pitt and I don't even have to break a sweat.

In other news, it was snowing like mad today. It made for scary driving and so I decided today was a good day to let other people cart me around. I went out to lunch with my brother and after a couple of entertaining and somewhat frightening incidences involving his car and a snow covered road, I knew I made the right choice. It is good to be able to be back and able to hang out with him again.

Oh yeah, before I forget. For all of my friends on the North American continent, can you please email me your phone numbers and birthdays. I need to get numbers into my phone and so if you haven't already, please email me your info.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

This Post is Brought to You By: Jet Lag

So here I am, back in Idaho and wide awake. I like being wide awake, I just wish it wasn't at 3:41am. I got in around 3:45 yesterday afternoon and by the time 6:30 rolled around, I was dead to the world. For one reason or another, I was up at 2:30am and have been ever since.

Being an early riser hasn't been all bad though. I unpacked some of my stuff started to get my room looking somewhat livable. I also proceeded to do something I haven't done in a long time, get leftover pizza out of the fridge along with a pop and eat a very early breakfast.

Oh, fun story. When I woke up this morning, I didn't know where I was or why I was in a very fluffy and large bed. It took me several seconds to remember that I was in the United States and figure out why the ambient temperature of the room was very comfortable. Beds and central heating with good insulation are a welcome addition to my life.

I have to say, I am in a killer mood today. Yesterday, upon seeing Boise out of my airplane, I was smothered by a sense of impending doom and dread. A wave of depression washed over me and I wanted so badly to be back home in Japan. It wasn't that I wasn't happy to see my family again, it was just that Boise looked so small and I instantly felt like I was trapped in a box. Today, I feel much better so I am thinking that a lot of the bad vibes I was getting yesterday came from being very tired and hungry.

Tomorrow, I have my interview and I am getting excited/nervous about it. I am not worried so much about the interview itself, more of about what the job means to my immediate future. If I can snag this job, I can truly hit the ground running and that would take a lot of weight off of my shoulders right now. I think it would be a very interesting and rewarding job as well and definitely something I would like to try but right now, I am just concerned about the financial ramifications that are tied into this. Car loans, apartment/house shopping at some point, etc. Getting this job means that I can relax sooner than later. Not getting it means I get to seriously start job hunting.

One other thing that made my day very early on was an email I received from Ben, asking me to be the best man at his wedding later this year. I am so excited that he asked me and can't wait to help him out and support him. It will be a fun wedding I think, and it will be in California which means one thing, road trip.

Anywho, it's after 4am now so I think I will finish this up and see what else I can do in the wee hours of this new day in this new place.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Departure Terminal

What a strange and sobering day so far.

I got up pretty early this morning to tie up the last couple loose ends that I had remaining in Japan. I rode about Fukuchiyama on a bike and took in the little town for the last time. That was kind of sad; while I have no doubt I will come back to Japan someday, I know I won't be coming back to Fukuchiyama. It has been my home for two years and knowing that I wasn't going to see it again made me a little sad.

Around 11:30 I lugged my "American-sized" baggage to the nearby train station and after a small skirmish with my big bag, I got on the train and watched my neighborhood roll past me for the last time. When I got to Fukuchiyama station, I went to the convenience store and got laughed at by the staff for the giganticness of my bag. When I told them I was going back to the US they asked if I was taking Japan with me in a bag that big. I wish I could.

My train ride out of Fukuchiyama reminded me of one of the reasons I love this place so much, the people. I let everyone board the train before me because I knew I was going to be standing in between the cars most of the way because there was no way I was going to be able to fit my big bag in the train car. As I got on, I had another battle with the big bag and was help by a guy in a business suit. As the train pulled away, I was standing near my big bag when he came back to where I was and told me that he had made room for me to come and sit down. I was hesitant to leave my bag unattended but he seemed to think it would be ok and so I went to sit down. What the guy actually did, was explained to a person that I had a lot of bags and convinced that person to share a seat with someone else so I could have two seats to myself. As I sat down he then offered me some rice crackers and after accepting them, he went back to his own business.

A short while later, I made room for a lady to sit down next to me and by the end of the train ride she had given me her address and phone number and told me that if I ever came back to Japan, that I should give her a call and visit. If I was in to older women, I would have a hay day here.

After the first train, I jumped on to the express train that would take me to Kansai Airport. I could have sat down but they had a standing area that no one was occupying and I figured I would watch the sprawl of Osaka coast by me just one more time. What started as a snowy day morphed into a slightly cloudy but sunny one and I was able to see the cityscape draped in heavily contrasted shadows and streams of sunlight. It was a good way to end everything.

Now, having gone through customs and having surrendered my Japanese ID, I am no longer a resident of this funny little country but rather a tourist making his exit. I am sitting in the flight terminal, watching puffy clouds hover over one of my favorite cities from across Osaka Bay. It is quiet now and it feels like this paragraph of my life is gently writing its epitaph as I prepare to get on a plane and embark on a new page.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Going Off The Air

Well, the time has arrived!

Today I am packing everything up and tomorrow I will officially move out of my apartment. I will be staying with Toby for a couple of days and he doesn't have the internet so I don't think I will be adding too much to the blog in the next few days.

My boss, in his infinite and over-powering wisdom, decided to move me out tomorrow instead of today but forgot to tell anyone else that fact. So this morning, I get a knock at the door by a guy telling me he had shut off my gas and water and was here to collect the last bill. I had enough on me to pay him but I needed to make a run to the ATM machine to pay the electricity guy that I knew would be on the way. He came while I was taking a shower in Toby's apartment and I missed him. This caused all of the corporate people to panic and so they started calling me wondering why I wasn't at the apartment with Dave. It's good to know communication runs strong in this company.

So the move out is officially tomorrow now, no thanks to middle management.

Anywho, I will be back in Boise on Saturday and am getting excited. All of the drama this morning just makes me want to leave more. So, I will talk to all of you very soon and for some, in person. For others, at least now we will be on the same continent!

My time in Japan has been great and I will miss this place but now it is time to do something else. See you all in a few days!

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Last Day Of Work

Well, it is here. I didn't think it would come this fast but the past couple of months have shot by at an alarming rate. I am going to go to sleep and when I wake up, I will teach my last day of classes and then come back here and start to seriously figure out how I am packing.

I am heading into Osaka on Sunday to meet the poor guy that is replacing me and getting a fat wad of cash from him for 80% of my worldly belongings in Japan. Seeing that most of my worldly belongings have something to do with cooking, they are pretty easy to part with. The joy of cooking is that you can do it anywhere at anytime with almost nothing if you absolutely have to. It is nice to know that my next domicile is equipped with a complete working kitchen however.

I met my favorite Japanese teacher for the last time today and she gave me a small photo album of all of the kids I teach. Me being the sap I am, almost cried. Almost. Tomorrow will be hard because all of my favorite kids at this school are Saturday kids and so I will see the last of them tomorrow. As much as they drive me nuts sometimes, I have gotten attached to them...even some of the completely nutcase ones that make me never want to have kids of my own for fear they will turn out half as bad as them. This is kind of when teaching kids sucks, either they move on or you do and you don't get to see them anymore. At the school I am at tomorrow, I have been these kids' teacher for the last two years and have gotten to know a lot of them and it will be sad not to be able to follow their lives anymore. The upside is that in teaching, the stream of kids is pretty much never ending and I know there will be others to take their place.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Man, That Is A Big Suitcase

When I came to Japan, I brought with me two suitcases. One suitcase is on the small side and I have loved it because it has accompanied me on every trip I have taken in Japan that required a hotel or staying at someone's house. The other suitcase is bigger, MUCH bigger. I forgot how big the bugger was until I pulled it out of the closet a few minutes ago to start the preliminary "how much crap can a cram in this" phase of the packing.

As it turns out, I can cram a lot. For example, if I were to want to kidnap a small child and bring them back to the US with me, they could easily fit and then use the box for my computer tower to sit on and still have a little room left for snacks and the obligatory Nintendo DS they would bring along. Or I could just put my desktop in there and a bunch of other random stuff and use the smaller suitcase for random stuff and then put it into the bigger one as well. I will then use my big red duffel(hehe duffel) to put all of my clothes into and some other random stuff.

It is looking like I will be making a trip to the post office again for several reasons. I have yet to come up with a way to take my LCD monitor back with me via the plane. It is too big to be a carry on and I have more valuable things that need to be in my checked baggage. Of all of my stuff, it and my one framed picture are too big to fit into the big suitcase. Actually, the framed picture fits, I just worry for its safety amongst the other things and being thrown around by baggage handlers. Both of these will need to be sent. The other thing I am having issues with are the cases of DVDs I have accumulated since I have been here. I am bringing them with me for sure but I don't think I can fit them all in my two big bags. That and I am not sure how customs would react to seeing a guy with hundreds of burnt DVDs on his person. I have burnt a lot of DVDs since I have been here. A lot.

Having taken out the big suitcase from its space in my closet, I have been struck by a wave of finality. My wonderful experience in Japan is really ending very soon. I can't say I am not bothered by this but at the same time, I know it is my time to leave. I have done pretty much everything a guy can do in this country. I never got to see a sumo match in person but other than that, the checklist is pretty complete. I have seen a baseball game, climbing Mt. Fuji, seen all of the major cities, and learned the language pretty well. I have a ways to go with the language yet but I will keep practicing; I like Japanese.

On that note, I bought an electronic Japanese dictionary the other day. I figured if I was going to continue studying, I should have something that can answer my questions when I don't have a Japanese person to ask. It is a pretty spiffy little gadget and has improved the speed of my manga reading greatly. It has a mode in which I can actually write in the kanji and it will try to identify it for me. It can also speak to me so I can hear pronunciation of words I am not familiar with. It is essentially an expensive Speak N Spell on steroids.

Anywho, I have three days left of teaching and it can't go fast enough. While I will miss a lot of these kids, I am really anxious to be done with Peppy Kids Club. My boss is getting flakier by the day or I am becoming less tolerant of him, probably both. I just know it will be nice to find a new job and I will hopefully feel like I make more of a difference in peoples' lives at it than I do here. It will be good to get home.

My body is starting to feel that way too. I think my back somehow has a sixth sense that is telling it that it will soon be laying on a very soft mattress on a pretty large bed and every morning for the past week or so, I have woken up feeling like I need a massage. Funky dreams don't help that one bit either and I have been having my fair share of those lately. When I came to Japan, I was excited because I didn't know exactly what I was getting in to. Now that I am coming back, I know exactly what I am in for and it is stressful. That is not to say that life back home wasn't nice, it is just that living is Japan is very simple and cut and dry. It is more peaceful here.

Anywho, I need to get back to my packing strategery and start thinking about bed. I am determined to be in bed before 4am today. I can do it!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Two weeks!!

The title says it all: 14 days 15 hours and 43 minutes until I am on a plane.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I Hate Moving

Lately, the whole getting excited to move back and feeling bad for leaving emotions have subsided and a general feeling of stress has replaced them. I hate moving. I loathe it. It is worse than buying a car or setting up cell phone service. Beh...I hate it.

Thanks to visitors and getting a car and whatnot, money is tight. Actually, "tight" isn't exactly a good adjective, "allocated" is probably a better one. Almost every single yen I have to my name is budgeted for something. Be it transportation for the next couple of weeks or bills that I know are coming at the end of the month, I have no cash to spare and it sucks.

Aside from the money, I have mostly been concerning myself over what I am throwing away and how much stuff is actually coming back with me. Fortunately, the guy that is replacing me has agreed that I should just leave all of the miscellaneous stuff I have and let him decide for himself whether or not he wants to keep it. That is fine with me because it means that I have to do less sorting and house cleaning stuff before I move. My biggest moving concern at the moment is how to get my desktop back to the US. I think I know how but I am not going to be happy about it until I know for sure it is going to fit; let's hear it for big luggage.

Japan is making it hard for me to cancel services as well. My cell phone service is proving to be almost impossible to quit correctly and the same goes with my internet. The internet is basically squared away but I am still working out how I am going to be paying my finals bills there. I do not want to not pay the money I owe them but they are putting me in a position that makes it extremely easy and consequence free. Right now this is where it stands, and I am quoting the internet service rep here, "You should just have a friend pay your final bills for you." They are trusting people, yet they wonder why most foreigners skip out on paying their final bills.

In other news, I had a really cool past few days. Jay from Videolamer and his girlfriend, Lou-Ellen(sp)came to crash with me for a few days and we had a lot of fun. I took them into Kyoto and Osaka and I think they enjoyed their brief but packed trip to Japan. While here, Jay and I decided we should find the Nintendo world headquarters and did so with almost no effort at all. After taking a few pics, we left because you can't get in for tours or anything. We also went to the top of the Kyoto Tower which is something I hadn't ever done so that was nice.

I was also happy to hear the news that Barack Obama won the Iowa elections. I refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton and all of the Republicans this time around look like tools, so Barack Obama it is. If he doesn't make the ballot at the end of the year, I probably won't be voting. I dig his plan for public education and I despise Hillary so Obama is my guy. Now he just has to win.

I found out a couple of days ago that the person I have been emailing about a possible job interview is happy with my resume and qualifications so now I definitely have an interview set up for a couple of days after I get back into town. I think it would be a good job for me because it is something I have never done before but think I would probably be good at and it will look great on my teaching resume. The people that I have been in contact with that work there also seem like great people and I am excited that I may get to work with them eventually. I guess we will see after my interview at the end of the month.

Lastly, tomorrow I start back to work. On one hand I am happy to get back to working because each day that passes is now one day less that I have to be here and I can see a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. On the other hand, after having three weeks off, the prospects of doing my job for a measly ten days before I leave just seem kind of like torture. I know this week will fly by but next week is going to drag on forever.

In celebration of almost being done, and the fact that Toby and his little brother wanted to drink, we had a party last night. Well, if you can call three guys going through a bottle of crazy strong pirate rum and two of the three guys passing out in a bathroom a party, that is what we had. By the end of the party, I had to take pictures because the events that unfolded needed to be captured for future generations to take warning from.


That is Toby and Chuck passed out in Toby's bathroom. They drank a tad too much. Chuck decided to use the bathroom at which point, he "fell asleep" over the sink while propped up on the toilet. Toby, wanting to make sure Chuck was okay, went in to sit with him and then Toby "fell asleep" on Chuck while propped up on the side of the bathtub. It truly was a Kodak moment and a shining example of brotherly love.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

And Now It's 2008

The new year came without a ton of fanfare on my part. I went into Kyoto and met Jessica and we wandered around for a little while before eating a really tasty katsu place in Kawaramachi. After that, we met up with a couple of her friends and they took us to a temple that neither of us had been to. It was fun to ring in the new year the way many Japanese people do and it was good to eat all of the festival food that I love.

Saying that, other than going to a temple or two, it didn't really feel like New Years. I don't know why but lately, holidays have gained a habit of passing without a ton of the bells and whistles I am used to. Jessica let me crash over with her and on New Years Day we both woke up in the early afternoon and just sat around for a bit.

After leaving Jessica's, I headed to Kyoto to meet up with my buddy Jay, from Videolamer. He and his girlfriend decided to come to Japan for the New Year and it has been fun to show them around. Right now, they are snoozing in my guest bedroom aka the kitchen. Tomorrow, we are off to Osaka for a day in Den Den Town and maybe some karaoke afterward. We shall see.

Anywho, not a ton else to report but I am happy to say that I will now be back in the United States in less than a month, 23 days to be exact. I get all chipper when I think about the fact that by the end of the month I won't be working for Peppy anymore and I will be able to be back in the US. I will miss Japan but at this point, I am very ready to come back. Well, off to bed, we have an early and slightly busy day planned for tomorrow.