crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'm Sleepy's like 7:30am. I'm NEVER up this early. Actually, I've been up since about 5. Why?



Saturday, October 21, 2006

Won't be Posting for a While...

... so here's some news that may tide you over:

  • My honey-pie will arrive this week!
  • Today is our 6-month anniversary! YAY for us!
  • I'm getting over a flu; Thursday I had a temp of 38.9 - which, I guess, isn't good.
  • Just booked myself a vacation to Okinawa. It's near Guam, but officially part of Japan. Tropical. Fun. I'm going from Dec. 3 to 7th; I'm going by myself, but if anyone's interested in joining me, let me know.
  • 49 days till I'm back in Canada!


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fun with Anna

I've been looking forward to this weekend for a long time. Anna-chan and I had hair-dates, and we decided to make a weekend of it. Friday I went to Tsuga (she lives just down the street from Riccardo's old place) right after work. Together we went to the grocery store and stocked up on French bread, nashi (apple-pears), cheeses and wine. Then we headed to the movie shop where we rented Brokeback Mountain (never thought that would come to Japan!). We enjoyed a fabulous low-key evening of good food and good gossip.

Early the next morning we awoke and ventured onto the train to Tokyo. From Anna's it only takes two trains and about $15 to get to Roppongi. Two hours later we stepped into the metropolis, with just enough time for Frappucinos from Starbucks. Then it was off to see Nobu, our favourite Japanese hairdresser (who always sports long, blond-highlighted, permed hair to go with his Aussie-English accent). As we were transformed into visions of perfection, we enjoyed CURRENT issues of gossip and fashion magazines - what a treat!

Three hours later we left Zooto, our salon, and discussed lunch. Since we were all the way in Tokyo we definitely wanted to take advantage of getting some good Western grub. So we jumped on the train to Ueno and hurried over to TGIFridays! It took us forever to decide what to order because we really wanted practically everything on the menu. In the end, Anna was sadly disappointed with her selection and I was VERY happy: buffalo chicken fingers with the BEST blue-cheese dip ever!!

We had a little time to shop around in Ueno and then it was back to Tsuga to prepare for our evening out; both of us excited to play with and show off our new hairdos. Actually, weirdest thing, at the grocery store the evening before we ran into the host of our Saturday-night festivities, which was were I attained my invite. It was Aussie-Josh from Oyama's 23rd birthday; I'd never met him or his American gf, Hang, until that run-in, but we've many mutual friends and they seem like really genuine people.

Anyway, we turned up at the Rock Bar in Oyama to find the little pub packed to the gills with about 45 birthday guests; it was standing-room only. There was live entertainment provided by a friend of the birthday boy, which was excellent. Many faces I'd never seen (proving once again that I am not, in fact, Queen of the Universe) and some I had. But feeling the preliminaries of a cold, and needed to get things done without a pounding hangover today (Sunday), I refrained from intoxication and was home by about 1am.

Thanks, Anna, for the lovely weekend! Can't wait to do it again soon, and in Germany!

OooooOOoooh, Riccardo arrives in just 8 days!!!! Yippee!!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hazy Shade of Autumn

...or pretty much any season here in Japan. Today was the most polluted day I have endured yet. Awful! Ok, it's Japan; yes, I live just enough away from Tokyo for the commute to be a bitch, but close enough to share it's pollution; alright, it's farming country and there are no bans on burning rubbish, but I think I still deserve the right to express my exascerbation at this atrocity.

I've written before about Tsukubasan, the mountain about 12 kms from Shimodate, and also, in its foothills, of Makabe, a town in which I teach. I've written before that on some days it's difficult to see Tsukubasan from Shimodate, the pollution being so thick. Today, however, was my day of working in Makabe: funny thing, driving into that town I still couldn't make out the contours of the mountain.

Not being able to see a mountain from 12 kms is one thing, not being able to see it from .25 kms is certainly another. No exaggeration. This is f%#&$^g disgusting. No wonder I have chronic allergies.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Good Times, Good Nabe

How is it that one discovers the best things about a culture only upon one's departure?

Actually, I've known of Nabe ever since my Japanese-ex-boyfriend, but for whatever reason, didn't embrace it's delishiousness. In my favour, I have to point out that the grocery store doesn't carry some essential ingredients for this traditional Japanese dish through the summer months because it's a cool-temperature-only delight.

Why is it saved for the wintertime? Well, my kiddies, because, akin to fondue, it's both prepared and consumed at the table: the living room table, that is. It requires a portable propane stove to keep it at a constant simmer, which would turn an already sweaty summer abode into a veritable furnace.

Tressa's mom, Diane, is visiting from Saskatchewan (again) and I figured she wasn't getting much of a taste for real Japanese fare, since her dear daughter holds a great preferance for most foods Western; as such, I pulled out all the stops and threw a Nabe together. Actually, my predecessor was a big fan, so I already had the appropriate tools (stove, ceramic dish, etc.).

So what is Nabe? Well, it's a soup/fondue. One can choose from a variety of broths (soy, miso, kimchi, and so forth) in which they boil ingredients of their choice and then withdraw said ingredients using their ohashi (or chopsticks) and a ladle. Ingredients might include Chinese cabbage, a variety of mushrooms, a variety of squashes and/or aubergines, carrots and other root veggies, seafood (octopus, prawns, fish, mussles, and other yuck-yucks), various finely-sliced meats, udon or soba noodles, tofu... Ours featured beef, prawns, soba noodles and a plethora of veggies in a miso broth. Cho umai (very delicious)!

Unfortunately, now I'm wishing I could pack up my handy portable stove, a number of the super-cheap propane canisters, and my 20-pound ceramic Nabe bowl and bring them home with me. :(


    • At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Riccardo said…

      I guess we can get something similar here, baby, so don't worry.

      P.S.: You are right - Nabe was quite delicious as far as I can remember...

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Love It!

Crystal Lynne Hambrook's Aliases

Your movie star name: Popcorn William

Your fashion designer name is Crystal Frankfurt

Your socialite name is Monkey Tokyo

Your fly girl / guy name is C Ham

Your detective name is Dog KamHigh

Your barfly name is Orange Caesar

Your soap opera name is Lynne Archibald

Your rock star name is Chocolate Leopard

Your Star Wars name is Crypho Hamric

Your punk rock band name is The Genki Scissors
The Amazing Meganame Generator


Monday, October 09, 2006

Sayanora Sale: Everything Must Go!

I'm leaving Japan in the beginning of December, so I need to sell the stuff I've bought or been given for my apartment. Please don't be shy to make me an offer on anything you think is overpriced; everything must go! Note that all items are about 9 months old, and in great condition. Free delivery of smaller items is available within the area (Mito, Tsukuba, Oyama, Utsunomiya).

  • Japanese DVD player: plays DVD-R, CD, CD-R, and Japanese DVDs; 4000 yen obo.
  • Microwave: like new; 3500 yen obo.
  • Sofa-bed: brown suede, reclines to various angles, very comfortable: 15,000 yen obo.
  • Curtains: full length X2 sets (chocolate brown & beige), half-length x1 set (beige): 4000, 4000 & 3000, respectively, or 9000 yen together obo.
  • Area rug: beige, good condition: 3000 yen obo.
  • Kitchen Unit: large size, one glass & one closed-in cupboard, drawer, and two open shelves (one on rollers), also features electrical hookup, 7500 yen obo.

Mail with questions, offers, etc.


Giving Thanks

I'm not really sure, but since MSN Today has been talking a lot about how to cook a turkey, I'm guessing this weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada. Shows how out-of-the-'loops (hehe) I am, hey? Anyway, I thought it was a good excuse to get over my self-pity and think about what I have to be thankful for, so here goes:

  • I am thankful that there are a number of people out there who care a great deal for me, and that I care about, too.
  • I am thankful that I've managed to work almost 2 years in a fabulous job, making probably the best money I'll ever make, and have been smart enough to use some of that money to make a sizeable dent in my debt while still enjoying my travel experience.
  • I am thankful that I've had an opportunity to live in a foreign country and really get to know a very different culture from my own.
  • I am thankful that I've learned, first-hand, that there are good people all over the world.
  • I am thankful to have found a grocery store in my town that sells peanut butter (it only took a year and a half to find it!)
  • I am thankful to have suddenly met and fallen in love with a beautiful man who wants to give me the world.
  • I am thankful that I get 5 weeks of holidays over Christmas and that they will start in just 2 months TODAY!
  • I am thankful for air conditioning, because despite that it's now October, I still had to turn mine on today.
  • I am thankful that Evanescence is FINALLY putting out a new CD, after about 6-7 years.
  • I am thankful that even if they don't write me personally, there are people out there who read my blog just to make sure I'm okay (well, and because they are looking for some juicy gossip - haha).
  • I'm thankful for Thai food, and that the world's obsessed enough with it that I can get ingredients for it almost anywhere.
  • I am thankful that my bosses moved me into this beautiful apartment and that I decided to furnish it to my liking. At least it feels a little bit like home.
  • I am thankful for my camera with which I have been and will be able to document the memories I build.
  • I am thankful that I am strong and adventurous and willing to accept the new challenge of acclimating to another new culture (Germany, you sillies!)
  • I am thankful that I am a happy person and, even on a down day, can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and right now that light is called Riccardo. xox

Feel free to comment on what you're thankful for. Love yas!


Saturday, October 07, 2006

It's Official!

Riccardo has officially booked his ticket to Canada for Christmas...

I have officially booked my ticket to Germany, open-ended!


(Thanks, Rebecca, for being the World's Best Travel Agent & sister!)


    • At 2:26 AM, Blogger kelseyhambrook said…

      ahem... i would like to point out that, although i am no travel agent, i too am the world's best sister... am i not? you have angered the little one

    • At 11:38 AM, Blogger Crystal said…

      rrrrrrright... well, i could say something about it being difficult to compete when one never contacts their sister(s), but instead i'll just agree and say, thanks for the comment and of course there are no favourites. i love you, little one.

    • At 6:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Oh let's just get over ourselves shal we... I thought we agreed YEARS ago that I, the beautiful middle child, am the favorite everything!! He he. Love you : P

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Mite! Mite!

Most of our schools provide lunch. I use the term "provide" loosely because it's actually just a ploy for free Eigo-no-Sensei interaction with the students (at most schools I eat in the classrooms). Sometimes the food is edible. Sometimes the kids are cute and well behaved. Sometimes not.

Well, we've reached the approximate halfway mark of this school year and as such, Tressa and I, at the one school that we visit together, have swapped schedules. This means eating lunch with a class of five-age kids who have never before experienced the joy of eating with their dear Eigo-no-clowns. Mayhem ensued.

These lunchtimes are usually chaotic, but yesterday's took the cake. I was accosted by grillions of "tit-slaps" (um, definition not required; it is what it sounds like), pokes and punches. Don't you know it's FUN to beat on your Eigo-no-clown? Of course there was the usual swarm of kids following me around to Junkin (Rock, Paper, Scissors) with me, over and over for no apparent reason. Add to that a torrent of "Eigo-no-Sensei, what's this called in English!?" (in Japanese, of course) to which I can give a correct answer only a fraction of the time. (Did I mention that I've told my student numerous times that my name is not "Eigo-no" but Crystal. I am Kulisutalu-Sensei, dammit!)

So I'm being inundated by children screaming over each other and trying to get me to name every last thing in the classroom in English, when three boys to my left start yelling:

"Eigo-no-Sensei!! Mite! Mite!" (Look! Look!) and asking what this particular object is called in English. I casually look over to find that the three of them have fully exposed their "chin chin" (wee-wees) and want me to identify them!

"Dame! Dame! No! Stop! Put those away!" Japan is full of little exhibitionists!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Feelings about Germany

I guess my recent posts have been reflecting a kind of depressed demeanor, which is not, entirely, true. Of course sometimes I'm scared to do this live-in-a-foreign-country thing all over again, and, probably moreso, scared of the big committment, but actually, these feelings are filtered with feelings of great enthusiasm about the whole thing.

I mean, come on: I get to live in EUROPE! Always wanted to go there, never expected I'd get to live there!

I'm excited to be a tourist every day again; to see century-old churches, and squares; to walk on cobbles laid by ancient Romans or whoevertheshit; to buy produce in markets that have been on the same ground since produce was invented; to never be in a place that no one has been before; to discover the roots of North American, and of my own heritage. This is exciting!

What's more, I'm superexcited to live with a boy! Unlike many of my furiouslycourting friends, I have postponed co-habitation until the almost-spinster age of 27. I hope this will not leave me too firm in my ways. I can't wait to choose furniture and kitchen stuffs and decor with a boy! I'm exceedingly excited to have someone to take care of me, and that I can take care of. I guess this is a sign, of the proverbial sense...

tick tock, tick tock


    • At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Riccardo said…

      I hope you will never regreat this big step in your life! I will do whatever I can to make it as smooth as possible!

      Lova ya, Tiggy

    • At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Ale said…

      I'm sure you'll find very well in Europe, especially in Germany (I love it)!!! And remember Italy...
      I hope to meet you soon...

      PS: You don't know me... I'm Riccardo's cousin, from Italy.

    • At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Kani said…

      Just a note, boys aren't always as excited as you are to pick out kitchen stuff, furniture and the likes. Although, who knew Neil would care what color out towels are?!

      Love ya

    • At 4:23 AM, Blogger Crystal said…

      Thanks for the comments, everyone! I'm sure I'll love it too! xox

    • At 7:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      uh huh ...well now this is Jessica's MA here also known as Tanno,,,who will cheerfully kick your ass into next year if Crystal is not blissfully happy!!!

    • At 7:48 AM, Blogger Crystal said…

      Thanks Tannis, I know who to turn to if an ass-kicking is in order. ;) love ya!

    • At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Riccardo said…

      Well, guess I am warned now, thanks Tanno-Tannis, will show you the target for kicking around Christmas! ;o)

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Out with the Tochigi Crew


    • At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Riccardo said…

      I more and more get the feeling that I am missing out on something, party people. Just wait until I am back, 22 days...

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