BooI don't have a lot to say... but I'm procrastinating about packing up another load and bringing it to the new apartment. Happily, my packing is nearly complete. I estimate 1-2 more boxes. Yay.
So yesterday during a lengthy break from work I had finished my book and was amusing myself with my keitai (cell phone). Actually, this consisted of me sifting through and deleting the 300+ text messages I'd been saving. I came across the following from hot-black-Utsunomiya-guy, aka Mike:
goodnite boo! looking 4wd 2cing u again.. b good... mike
awww! Anyhow, that's going nowhere. But, I had to take a minute to reflect over what "boo" meant? Is it a pet-name? This quandry is similar to one I often find myself in when talking to Gary, who also utilizes "ebonix" - about which I know nothing, even spelling the word is sketchy. I find this all so intriguing, and at the same time slightly irritating. Especially when people (insert: Gary) occassionally tell me to "speak English!" for using correct grammar and large words.
Can someone please give me the lowdown on this lingo?
Dullard ...with "Mental Issues"That's me. Nothing exciting to report.
Haven't heard from anyone at home lately; I must have crossed into the "Lost and Forgotten" category. I've heard that happens once you are away a while.
My week has been filled with packing. I hate moving. At least this move is worthwhile. Tressa and I got our keys (except they're not keys, they're cards. That say "guest" on them. Like our apartments are hotel rooms or something. Already annoying.) on Friday. Moved a load in on Saturday and had ourselves a nice beer to christen the places. I'll move over a couple more loads throughout the week, but official move-in day is Saturday. Free beer for those who help! RSVP.
The problem with having a nice new apartment is that it makes you want to fill it with nice new stuff. Bugger. I, of course, have a heafty wishlist. With Thailand quickly approaching, however, I do not have a heafty budget. **sigh** I am sick of living like a squatter.
Saturday night karaoke. Good times. Newbies, Jen and Drew, and later, Nori, Dan and Tomo joined. Tressa was more inebriated than ever... I had to take her home early. Poor dear. Good fun though.
Some *duch was reported as saying that I have "mental issues" and that I'd have to deal with them before said duch would hang out with me. This irritates me because my biggest mental issue is that I want everyone to like me, and because Duchboy has decidedly the biggest mental issues of anyone (classic "look who's talking" rebuttal). They say that being in Japan too long can make a person snap, so Duchboy can't really be blamed... but I'm uncertain as to why I was singled out. In any case, most people I meet chalk my so-called "mental issues" up to part of my charm.
Stay well, stay warm. The blizzards will pass and then you'll bitch about the heat.
*Duch, derived from douche, is borrowed from J-lingo: The Terminology and Vocabulary of Jessica Antonio. Duch implies the dumbing-down of an already repugnant and derogatory term and usually conveys some sarcastic or comedic undertones.
a breakup?Some of you may remember that I met this guy in Tokyo months ago. We hit it off and have been conversing via phone and email since. We both had intentions of actually dating when we first met, but those plans kinda fizzled because of the distance and other circumstances. Anyhow, I felt the games had gone on too long, and my interests now lie elsewhere anyway, so this is what went down:
Boy: hey. how r u?
Me: supergreat. u?
Boy: 1 of them work days. glad to b home though
Me: good. what's up?
Boy: nuffin. just was thinkin bout ya
Me: thinking what?
Boy: about u! jeez...
Me: thanks, i guess.
Boy: i guess?
Boy: ok. i GUESS u dont wana talk
Me: you're not talking about anything
Boy: u seem... different
Me: i am different.
Boy: u ok? why?
Me: i'm done with the games. plus, i'm seeing someone.
Boy: i'm sorry you felt they were games
Me: well, i can't wait around forever for you to decide if you want to see me or not
Boy: that's just it. i do. but it just kept buggin me that i couldn't give u d relationship u deserve
Me: the timing was off for us, that's all
Boy: true. but i wana wish us both luck
Boy: so u wana 4get u ever knew me?
Me: of course not
Boy: better not
...Suspiciously like a breakup. weird.
NB. he later accused me of being evil to him. gawd!
What would have been a long weekendAfter a miserable Friday, I put on a smiling face and decided not to let the Driver's License Debaucle get the best of me. Tressa and I planned for a low-key night including a few drinks at our favourite izakaya, Sankano, with whomever happened to show up. Jody had other plans, but decided instead to surprise Tressa and I with her company and two beautiful bouquets of pink tulips. A definite upswing.
At about 9pm we finally made it to dinner at this fabulous hole-in-the-wall Indian Diner about 10 minutes from my place. I seriously cannot understand why I don't eat there daily: amazing hand-made food. Around 11pm we met up with Nori and Dan at the pub, which is actually only a few blocks from Gagan, the curry house. Hoots were had, but the drinking was fairly minimal.
Saturday involved some house-tidying, some email-writing, some Sex and the City-watching, and some ladies-gossiping. Tressa decided to go with Peter to Mito and meet up with our co-workers, Amy and Christa, Saturday night, but Jody and I had plans for today (Sunday) so we stayed behind (Mito would likely have been an all-nighter). Instead we met a Tsukuba friend, Martin, for dinner at our mexican joint, El Torito, and called 'er an early night.
Today, since I will have no opportunity tomorrow, I am busy blogging, cleaning and trying to get some packing done. Moving in less than two week, but we may get the keys early... so I need to get my ass in gear. Also, I am readying myself for a dinner with Koji.
Koji and I will be cooking traditional Japanese nabe together at his apartment this evening. It will be my first time, so I'm really excited. As far as I know, nabe is like a soup cooked on the table (like fondue) where you pick out the boiling bits with your ohashi (chopsticks). Should be oishi (delicious)! Anyhow, I am rather disappointed that we will, again, have to cut our evening short because of work, now that I have to get up and go BACK to Mito at 6:30am. Grrrrr.
On becoming a Wino...Most of you know how hilarious my younger sister Rebecca is, but here's the latest installment. This is here latest email to me, in it's entirety.
So you know what doesn't make sense...
my logic for buying wine!
For me, the most important quality in wine is PRICE. Closely followed by a calculation of ALCOHOL CONTENT (ie. which one calculates to getting me drunk for cheaper). The next thing I would have to say is a toss up between FUNKY LABEL and FREE GIFT. I do like a cool looking bottle of wine, yet, everyone likes Free Stuff. Today I found myself putting down my $5.99 special in favour of an $11.99 bottle which came with a small spongy penguin toy. I mean, seriously! 1. The toy was ugly, 2. Useless, and 3. I was actually willing to pay $6 for this thing just because it was "FREE"!!!
Where have my standards gone!?!
What ever happened to the importance of PRICE!?!
Oh, I'm getting so frivolous now that I have more money to spend.
PS - In the end, I smartened up (with the help of Michael) and went for the 4L Box instead...
A FREE BOX!!!
Bureaucrats All Over The WorldTime to convert to Japanese Driver's Licenses (not a big process: a short interview and an eye test). I'd been warned about the Mito Prefectural Department of Motor Vehicles. Maybe I thought I'd get by on good looks?
Tressa and I got up at 6:45am to drive 2 hours to Mito where we met up with our boss, Hiro. After getting some pictures taken, we waltzed into the DMV at 9:15. Applicants for Japanese Driver's Licenses are accepted only between 9 and 10:00am, so we were well within the time limits. After paying some fees and getting some documents, we were told to wait. So we waited. And waited. And waited.
Around 11:30 they finally called Tressa up to the counter where Hiro translated an interview about her driving record and how she originally got her driver's license. After about 10 minutes Hiro turned to me and asked what time I would have to leave in order to get to my classes that afternoon in time. "In about 15 minutes," I said. Quick conversation with the DMV woman, then: "ok, they can't take you Crystal, so you're going to have to come back another day." (Fuck off!) "You are kidding, right?"
This conversation was followed by my boss trying to get a confession from me that I have this coming Monday off of work (so that I can go to Mito first thing in the morning). Obviously having looked forward to my only 3-day weekend in months for months, I was less-than-willing to part with that tidbit of information... especially since the Japanese spoken by the DMV woman sounded to me like they were willling to take me after lunch.
My deduction: my boss(es) were unwilling to postpone my Optional classes from Friday to Monday afternoon even though it would save me about 8 or more hours of my time (OFF) and cost them nothing. BULLSHIT. I now have to get up on my day off 3 hours earlier than I would if I were working that day, only to sit in a DMV all day. Bitches.
Am I angry? I'm fucking spitting angry.
White Sands Beach, Here I Come!After much grief and a great new ulcer, Tressa and I have FINALLY booked our tickets to THAILAND!!!! OMG!
We will be gone for nine days, departing March 25 and coming back to Japan April 2. We plan to spend 1.5-2 days in Bangkok when we first arrive and the rest of the time on a white beach with fruit bevies in our fists (Ko Chang?). Mmmmm, bevies...
These are pictures I thieved from the innernet (hehe!) exemplifying what we plan to see... and (hopefully) enticing YOU to get your shit together and meet us in the tropics, dammit.
Our Deal: We're paying roughly $605 CN for return airfare, two nights hotel in Bangkok and transfer to the hotel from the airport. This includes taxes and fees (such as our return flight date extension fee). Woot!
Can't Wait! Can't Wait! CAN'T WAIT!
Oliver TwistMet up with some lovely ladies (Tressa, Nori, Anna & Treva) last night for our semi-regular Ladies Night: Dinner & Movie in Oyama. We had all been looking forward to seeing Oliver Twist, and it was finally here!
I thought I knew the story of Oliver, but I guess I just knew the songs. And you know, a story can seem ever-so-much lighter when catchy tunes are intermittently chorused. Oliver Twist is a dark story, much darker than I anticipated. But then, Director Roman Polansky favours darkness, doesn't he? That's not to say I was disappointed.
It took me a good half hour to realize which role Ben Kingsley was playing; he was a masterful Fagin. Seriously, I am ready to add Kingsley as #3 on my list of all-time favourite actors. I wasn't sure whether Fagin added the right amount of creepiness or the right amount of humour to this rendition of a classic, but he sure added the right amount of something.
The casting was quite perfect also. Newcomer, Barney Clark faultlessly conjured innocence for his role of Oliver; pre-teen stunner Harry Eden likewise portrayed boy-gone-wrong, Artful Dogdger, with mischevious ease.
Some might think the word "classic" translates into "overdone and boring" but a terrific cast, an astute director and picturesque scene images lend themselves to this first-rate recreation of Oliver Twist.
Four out of five stars.
linkingHey, regarding our kareoke outing last Friday: Jody posted comments and pictures (because my blog is so blandly lacking pictures lately) on her blog at:
Know Me Better
Um, 9:27. Yeah, I'm more of a night person.
2. Diamonds or pearls?
Diamonds are the obvious choice for sparkle factor... and god knows I get distracted by sparkly things.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Oh Harry, you know we're meant to be... but when are you suddenly going to catch up to my age like all those other Hollywood wash-ups?
4. What are your favourite TV shows?
TV show? What's that? Yeah, haven't watched TV for about 10 months, not including my 2-week HGTV binge while I was in canada. I resort to lousy rentals... not that Sex and the City is lousy... am I right, or am I right?
5. What did you have for breakfast?
Oops. So forgot to eat the yogurt cup in the fridge... in my sleepiness I forgot that I'm supposed to be trying out a healthier diet... apparently sleep won the coin toss, again (cause it helps to get 30 seconds extra... don't you know).
6. What is your middle name?
Lynne, after my Mom's old best friend when she lived in Ottawa (hence the Frenchiness)
7. What is your favourite cuisine?
Thai food, and veggies, and tofu.
8. What foods do you dislike?
Pretty much any meat and/or fish... on a bad day. otherwise not overly picky.
9. What is your favourite chip?
Oh god, unfair! Nacho cheese crunchies, by far. Anyone so kind as to mail me some will need my NEW address.
10. What is your favourite CD at the moment?
The Fall Out Boy CD hijacked by my youngest sister, Kelsey, who burnt it for me right before I left Canada. It's rad!
11. What kind of car do you drive?
2006 Suzuki Swift SUV model, CD, 4dr, sliver, auto everything. I love it!
12. What is your favourite sandwich?
Crossaintwich featuring cream cheese, cucs, tomatos and avocado.
13. What characteristics do you despise?
Senseless bitchiness, arrogance, selfishness.
14. Favourite item of clothing?
My mukaluk boots (aka moccasins, aka ugs), it's like wearing slippers with style.
15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
Right now, Thailand... because all my money is on it - literally.
16. What colour is your bathroom?
Gotta love the flecked pink wallpaper. Japanese people really need to learn something about DRYWALLING.
17. Favourite brand of clothing?
Actually, I tend to personally avoid brand names. I HATE Louis Vuitton... can't understand the craze, FUGLY. That said, I often buy stuff from Old Navy.
18. Where would you want to retire?
Somewhere, where there are fruity margeritas and louge chairs... or in one of those "retirement communities" with all my old friends where we can sit around all day and play canasta.
19. Favourite time of day?
Last hour before bed, when I can read or watch a movie in peace.
20. Where were you born?
Clearwater, BC, Canada; aka Nowheresville.
21. Favourite sport to watch?
**Edited #22 and #23. The usual bullshit**
24. What type of detergent do you use?
Sheesh, I don't know... and let me tell you, this is a hassle in Japan because I'm never 100% sure whether I'm putting bleachy detergent in with my colours.
25. Coke or Pepsi?
Used to be diet coke with lime, but they don't have that here so I'll have to go with coke.
26. Morning person or night owl?
27. What size shoe do you wear?
Don't know the Japan size, but in North America it's about 6.5-7.
28. Do you have pets?
Phoenix the psychotic cat, who is currently residing at my parents' while I am in Japan, and my imaginary pocket dog, Peanut (who will, at some point exist for real in my life). Princess Reia, my megaspider, still haunts me from her smear on my porch (thank god I'm moving!).
29. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with everyone?
I'm officially going to Thailand for nine days in late March!! (Just got confirmation yesterday). Yipee!
31. Favourite candy bar?
Hmmmm... not really a sweets person most days, but I do miss Mars bars once in a while.
32. What is your best childhood memory?
33. What are the different jobs you have had in your life?
Babysitter, janitor, stadium concession stand worker/manager, retail clerk, campsite attendant, hostess, server, telephone credit card customer service provider, teacher...
**accidentally "inserted" over the beginning of this question...**
34. ...ear are you wearing?
I'm wearing 2 ears?
About 8 in my ears, 4 of which are currently in use; though they've actually been pierced 10 times, including my rook - which is by far my favourite. Once had my tongue pierced, that was interesting, for a time. I think tongue piercing is something one outgrows, you know? Like, one can only pull it off until a certain age.
36. Eye colour?
Hazel (NOT BROWN!), and I'm sticking to it.
37. Ever been to Africa?
No sir, but I'd love to... maybe one day I'll go there and teach those poor Africans something other than religion (literacy, language, trades...)
**edit. this thing is too damn long. I don't want to list a million of my favourites.**
57. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Barry had a good theory on his blog: http://iamtetsumaiki.blogspot.com/
58. How many people are you sending this email to?
A little less emailing, a little more posting.
59. Time you finished this e-mail:
12:21am. Time for bed... but first a hot bath and blowdry.
A Dave-and-Anna WeekendFriday was impromtu kareoke; some people dropped out at the last minute, some showed up at the last minute. The fabulous Dave and Anna duo were those that showed up! Yeah! If you don't recall, Dave (Brit) lives about 20 minutes from Shimodate, in Ninomiya, where Tressa and I sometimes teach. His girlfriend, Anna (Kiwi), lives just outside Tochigishi, which is about 35 minutes away, in the other direction (past Oyama). When they're around its a guaranteed good time; how could it not be with Dave singing "Parklife" and Anna, "Vogue?"
The hotel we tried to book for Tokyo on Saturday fell through: no vacancy. :( Happily, Dave and Anna invited us to join them in Utsunomiya for a Blue Birthday (everyone must wear blue). We had no idea what we were getting into. Tressa and Jody and I met up with Anna and Treva (American) at Anna's cute apartment to get ready, and the girls had some champagne and strawberries (at $8.00 a bottle, why not?). We all drove up to Utsu and Dave met us there. Party #1 was at a rustic-themed izakaya (pub) called WaruWaru; we walked in and couldn't even get a seat with the group, since about 35 people were already there, including many of our Tochigi JET pals. Eventually another table left, and there was room for us. The food was excellent, but the pub was too warm (in Japan it is always either freezing cold or sweating hot indoors).
After a few fresh kiwi-grapefruit sours we walked over to Darts Bar (which is the English translation for the real name) for Party #2. We'd been here a bunch of times, but had never seen it so busy! This place is cool: it sports cement walls and floors, chandeliers, sporatically-placed sofas and arm-chairs and, you guessed it, electronic dart-boards. Brittany, the birthday girl actually barely made it to Darts Bar, and was unfortunately holed-up in the loo much of the time... her friends had to take her home and call it an early night.
Party #3 was across the street and up six floors to Birdland; the lone danceclub in Ustu. Again, been there before, but never seen it so busy. I usually consider having a girl-to-guy ratio of 1:10 a good thing, but many of the guys were pervy. Thankfully our good friend Billy met us at Darts Bar and played the "boyfriend" role all night (this involves us leaching on to him if a pervy guy starts grinding on us and yelling "boyfriendo! boyfriendo!" Billy was also really good at noticing lurkers in advance and casually moving us out of their potential clutches; I think he liked his job... hmmmm, why???
It was great to catch up with some old friends from thata way; haven't been to Utsu for months, and they noticed. As the JETs have recently had to renew or not renew their contracts for next year, it was a little sad to find out who is staying and who is moving on. I don't know if any of you remember my mentioning a hot black guy (Mike) I met at Birdland months ago, but he found me again on Saturday. In my drunken state, I didn't really remember him at first, but he was still hot, so I let him buy my a few drinks.
Tokyo is postponed indefinitely. Having missed the opportunity this weekend, we feel that we have too much else to do in February, what with moving, etc., so we will likely leave it until March. Actually, I have no camera right now (except keitai one, which is annoying because then I have to email my pictures to myself, which costs $. I had to send good one to Canada for repairs), so I'd rather just wait anyway.
No really, I'm MOVING!Seriously folks, how stoked am I?!?!
The aforementioned request to my bosses for nicer/newer/cleaner apartments was promptly conceded, and then followed by a hasty Monday-afternoon apartment hunt. Even rentals, in Japan, must go through a realtor, so my employers and I stopped into two separate agencies where we viewed two separate sets of apartments. Though the first set was 2 years newer (built in Heisei ju-roku, or 2004) and as such, a smidgeon nicer, the second set (built in Heisei ju-yon, or 2002) had a much improved location, so we placed our bets there.
Tressa and I waited on pins and needles for the word; as landlords sometimes avoid allowing foreigners to rent their apartments and our employers were requesting that the apartments be held empty for a month so that they could give the required 1-months notice at our current residences, there was some nervousness involved.
Yesterday, however, Cynthia called to explain that not only did we get the apartments, but we will be moving in on Feb. 25!! OMG! Less than three weeks to pack!! She also pleaded with us to avoid undue expenditures at this time as they have maxed out their budget paying our rental fees (a contractual obligation).
In Japan renting an apartment is insanely expensive. Not only are the realtors paid one months rent, but the landlords are given two months rent as "gift money" - this means that the renter will not see this money again. Additionally, there is usually a deposit and a first and last months rent required. So Cynthia and Hiro put out nearly $4000CN that they will never see again, and an additional $2000 for regular start-up rental fees... this doesn't even include transfer of all the utilities, etc. THANK YOU!!
So, the new apartment... it's a little bigger than my current apartment, with an extra room housing the washing machine and a vanity/bathroom sink (adjoining the shower room). The toilet features built-in bidet and heated toilet seat. There are hardwood floors throughout, except in the bedroom where there are traditional tatami mats (Japanese version of carpet). The kitchen is larger, with an eating nook and a little extra cupboard space. The entrance way features built-in shoe cabinets; same amount of closet space otherwise. There are large patio doors in both the living room and bedroom which lead to a long balcony; unfortunately there is no view as my second floor apartment looks out onto the building across the "courtyard."
The apartments are located in the downtown area of Chikusei (Shimodate), whereas our current homes are in a suburb (like Dallas). We will be about three blocks from Shimodate train station (the main station in town, on the main train lines), two blocks from the post office and bank, two blocks from the main grocery store in town, one block from the Coco's and Denny's (American-style restaurants), and directly across the street from our favourite ramen shop (oh no, this is not good at all!!!). There is also a kareoke bar about four blocks away, which is directly across the street from the internet cafe/ping-pong, darts & billiards joint that we frequent. The izakayas (pubs) that we have been to in Shimodate are all within walking distance. Tressa will live directly below me. As our rent is subsidized by our company, it stays the same even though the monthly rent will be significantly more.
On the downside: I will be approximately 10-15 minutes farther away from my schools on every day except Thursday; this is especially bad on Friday, when I don't get home from work until 7:30 as it is. On the plus side, we would have to drive through town to do almost anything socially, so we are saving time there by living in town. Thankfully, the earliest I'll have to leave the house will still be about 8:45am.
Pictures to follow.
marbles officially lost
Setsubun...another lesson in Japanese culture courtesy Yoshiko
Setsubun is a Japanese custom that celebrates the changing of the seasons from winter to spring; it takes place on Feb. 3.
The myth behind Setsubun is that a "monster" known as Oni resides in the house during winter; this monster resonates bad luck and dark moods. On Feb. 3 members of the household perform several rituals to relieve the house of Oni. Specific numbers of dried soy beans are consumed (the number eaten represents the age of the person eating them), and makizushi (known as maki rolls to foreigners) are biten into while facing the year's designated direction (Never Eat Shredded Wheat) of luck. Participants then verbally instruct Oni to vacate the premises and invite Huku, or happiness, inside.
In celebration of this ritual fathers often don masks and pretend to be Oni. The masks, which can be purchased in stores at this time of year, are either scary or cute, depending on the artist's interpretation of the monster. Children then pelt "Oni" with dried soy beans and drive him out of the house. The soy beans are later cleaned up, likely by mom.
Unfortunately, Setsubun, like many other Japanese cultural days, is not a stat. holiday.
Happiness this spring, everyone!