Thursday, September 29, 2005

September is the month in which:

In which my adventures lead me to a live Japanese rap/hip hop club, long drunken nights of karaoke, and an odd friendship with strange British guy I met at the grocery store.

In which I get tired of taking pictures and sometimes just write stories instead.

In which I miss the last train home and spend the night in an internet cafe making revelations about my past life.

In which I brainstorm ways to travel the world without exquisite talent or financial backing.

In which I visit Akihabara, a electronic/fuzzy wet dream (for some).

In which I wax philosiphic about being 24 and make an elaborate checklist of whether or not someone rates a second date/return phone call.

In which Paul Simon, Dar Williams, and Billy Idol become critical to my twice a week commute.

In which I am unable to figure out how do properly do my laundry and force a discussion about feminism on my students.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

sketching 2

I didn't stop to stare and I certainly didn't stop to take a picture. I was too busy hurrying to my train. so all you get is a sketch of him.

It was around 10:45 at the train station. a little more than an hour before the last train heading into Tokyo and a little more that and hour and a half before the last train traveled out. I poured out of the bus, surrounded businessmen (I saw one woman) from companies like IBM, Fujitsu, NTT, and the techno type. If this particular businessman had been standing he probably wouldn't have caught my eye. but he sat, absorbed in his folder of papers on a bench, under a tree, by the bus stop.

he sat with his legs crossed, one ankle over the other knee, forming a nest for his papers. He wrote carefully and emphatically in ink, his strokes were neat and his characters clean. His hair cut, build and age were typical of 90% of the bus goers but what made him stand out was his naked foot. suspended in air, so misplaced from the rest of his image that it seemed almost diconnected from the ankle resting on the grey suited knee. floating not so far above its business style shoed counterpart. the empty shoe sat close by, quiet estranged from its naked twin and the busy pen on paper.

and I don't know what he wrote. even if I had paused for a second or looked over his shoulder, studying him, for half an hour, I would not have known what magic poured from that pen. While it looked like a folder full of figures and business matters, I choose not to believe that this dedicated scribbler choose to use the moments between 10:40pm and 10:50pm continuing his working toils. I choose to believe that, akin to urgent napkin poems and manifestos, this white collar worker suddenly became overwhelmed and had no choice but to pour his mind onto paper. he had no choice but to shape his world into lines of ink, neat and unsmeared as they were.

nut whether it was of an unrequitable desire, a moment of beauty, or a instance of disbelief, I shall never know. whether it was a hastily written invitation that he will slip into a lovers pocket or re-written mantra of compassion and strenth, I can only guess.

so I turn the image to you. a businessman, wearing a fitted suit, jacket and all except for naked foot balancing on his knee. he sits pouring over a simple paper folder of pages. he writes in pen and does not look up as the world pours by.

Monday, September 26, 2005


I meet people everyday. I see people. I watch people. and I make friends where and when I can.

I have been happy to make friends with some of my coworkers. one of them is Kevin and here is a little sketch of him.

when he tells us about his barber he says "its worth every extra penny because he speaks some english and tells me I look like Tom Cruise"

he lives closest to KM school and therefore has the cheapest cab ride home. after a night out, Yoshi and I will go back to his place to crash. his place is tiny, a mirror image of mine, cluttered and generally boyish. but his hospitality is flawless.

he always has extra pajamas and toothbrushes for Yoshi and I.

He smokes Marbalo lites, except when he and Yoshi are sharing and then buys mentos.

His family is Roman Cathlic Irish from south Chicago.

He is one of the instigators of the running the road race mania (which I eventually declined because my feet hurt too much from wearing heel all the time). He will run with one of the students the full 15 km.

I've seen him order up to three beers in Japanese, but from what I can tell hasn't learned much more than that. he smiles big and nods gernerously.

he happily tries anything that is ordered. this saturday Yoshi and Akemi chose to order boiled (cold) pigs feet for the four of us.

His karaoke style is confident but not talented. He perfers love rock ballads by bands like Aerosmith, Smashing Pumpkins and U2.

He is a great back up singer whenever I get in over my head--or sing james brown. he is always encouraging and generous.

When he returns in April he will probably go into business.

He has 50 or 60% more classes than I do but never makes me feel lazy.

He can talk about things other than work and loves the Godfather movies.

Yoshi and Akemi are also becoming good friends, for similar reasons. sketches on them later. Kantaro and Angela, two other teachers and KM, are also very friendly and helpful but don't go out with us. KM is becoming a great place to work and is coming more and more sharply into contrast with Shinonome (shnnme), which is not a happy place for me. the teachers are civil to me but down right mean to the manager. they, so far, don't say hello in the morning or goodnight at the end of the day. but I only work there two days a week, so its not soooo bad. I'm going to try and get semi transfered so that I can work at KM 5 days a week... but we'll see.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

address confusion (update)

(pic soon to be uploaded)

not surprisingly, there have been problems getting mail to me. here's my new suggestion of how to write my address. Since the Japanese like their addresses "upside down" here you go

Katsushika - ku
Shinkoiwa, 4 chome 38-11
LeoPalace Shinkoiwa #205
Corinna Beyer

that's closer to how it's registered with the government.
I got mail from Meimi and Bapa today (25th) that is postmarked the 17th. 80 cents. thank you thank you.

mom has also successuful sent me many letters to

Kori Beyer
Leo Palace #205 4-38-11
Shnkoiwa Katsushika-ku
Tokyo Japan

either way, just make sure your letters are really really legitable. one thing no english school teachs is how to read bad handwritting.

I have a request. Please send me postcards of Oregon. Thanks to the fam. I have lots of Washington (Akemi, my manager/friend was really excited about the razor clams) but I need some of Oregon and everywhere. Otherwise the decorations on my walls in my classroom just look weird and unbalanced.

I miss you all.
Hope this clears up some confusion. and I love checking my posts and seeing comments from everyone. Thanks!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

perhaps luck hates the sober mind

ever wonder what the first train in the morning looks like?
this one left at 4:27am.

they say that luck favors the prepared mind, but my experiences are proving otherwise. the two times I have turned down staying out with my coworkers and drinking I

1)got very lost the first night

2) missed the last train home last night. bummer.

we went out to dinner because today is a holiday (check out the rabbit in the moon but I missed the right bus to connect to the last train by 30sec and ended up stuck half way.

so I hung out at an internet cafe type place. got my own little room for a late night special of 5 hours for 800 yen (like 7 or 8 bucks, best 800 yen I've spent in recent memory)

I chatted online with some lovely people who I love to death for keeping my company. so if you want to chat with me, let me know what your handle/screen name is. maybe the next time I'm up all night online, you can find me and keep me company.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

poscards from lee and george

yes. they arrived. a troubled flight it seems.

mailed before I left, the letter says. aug 17th on the postage
it made it to katsushika (my ward of tokyo) on the 25th but couldn't find my address (sorry, my fault. my apt number 205)

so the postcards found their way back to lee and george who are tenacious in their efforts and mail it back out on the 13th of sept.
and it arrived today, on the 21st.

so, if the stars are aligned, an air mail letter will arrive in about a week.

thank you!! I will put them up in my classroom this week. for that matter, I'll put almost anything you send me up in my classroom. so, if you want pen pals, feel free to write an intro letter and I'll offer the opprotunity to my students. many of them are busy business men and women... or under 5years old. but I think some of the other teachers may have interested students.

thank you!! I was having a frusterating day and it cheered me up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

traveler extrodaneir

after visiting Akihabara and seeing some street performers, I was re-inspired to think about my place in the world. do I want to live in Japan? (if so, is Ye Ol' Eikaiwa the best option) do I want to travel all over the world (again, is Ye Ol' Eikaiwa my best strategy?) do I want to migrate back to science??

and I came up with a short list of skill that can be useful anywhere in the world.

1. English -- better to have teaching experience and a certificate of some kinda, but English alone and any degree are a huge asset

2. Hair scissors -- everyone needs their hair cut, styled, and general pampering. as my co-worker Keven said of his barber who costs equivalent of $40 for a cut (though not an uncommon price here), "Its worth every yen because he speaks English and tells me I look like Tom Cruise."

3. Smile purdy and pour that booze -- bartending skills

4. Any kind of performing. singing. dancing. sketching. posing. comedy. the less of a language barrier the better.

I have a vision of finding a pretty female tango dancer and getting a stereo and dancing in the street. taking turns leading. tuned into each other and the crowd.


I'm told that 'akihabara' literlally means "home of the geeks." It has gained fame for high tech electronics, ridiculous amounts of anime, techies who speak all sorts of useful lanugages (like English).

I visited with my friend from training. It wasn't as amazing as I supposed, but still pretty damn cool. there are multiple 7 story buildings filled with video archades. there are alleys full of tiny shops selling cameras, electronic dicitonaries, and stereos. there are shops full of music. there are girls passing out advertisements that look like anime characters. there are sights to be seen here, in this little corner of the world for geeks.

when I actually have disposible income, I'll be tempted to go back...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I'm so young

one of the spoils of one of my more recent failed relationships was a book of poetry called Ten by Tennesse. she has a poem called “I’m so young” and she details all these things she is still getting away with (not paying bills, being unkind, ect) by telling herself she is still so young.

being in Japan makes me feel young in the best sort of way. people say ’24?’ that’s the perfect age to be here. many of my friends are early thirties.

I’m so young that this adventure is well timed and not ill-conceived.
I’m so young I can tease my students about references to American TV shows that I don’t know (really because I didn’t watch TV)
I’m so young that I’m thrilled all the time
I’m so young that it’s easy to be pissed off at seening McDonalds and Starbuck on every goddanm corner
I'm so young that staying up till 3am at a karaoke bar with my fellow teacher and singing untill I'm horse is a perfect saturday night
I’m so young

but really… if you didn’t know how old you were, what age would you be


here is a pic of two of my students —taken at dinner with my new camera (yipeee and its green).

the week’s lesson highlights include

trying to get students to guess (lesson on speculating) what American map icons mean and learning that hotels are just as likely as hospitals to be marked on Japanese maps
practicing how natives slurr their words together with phrases that I’d read outloud and they’d guess
“Get on the bus at the bus stop over there” became something about jumping out of the bath naked and trying to catch the bus
“I have a one in five chance in winning” became ‘I have a one in five chance of wedding”
two lessons this week with my biotech genius private student. one of which we discussed intelligent design vs evolution and what the Kansas school board should teach (did all of you check out my ‘new religion’ link? if not, do it now and be enlightened on the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster god.)

and I misspelled vague (vauge) on the board and got totally busted by my students

other news:

we have new contracts that change the number of working hours in creative ways to make us technically part time
really it doesn’t change much, but avoids the new Japanese law that has to do with foreigners and National health insurance
so I’m not holding my breath about any possibility of moving closer to either school. I have a new secret plan and in the mean time am settleing into my apartment, buying organizers and putting stuff on the walls

Friday, September 16, 2005

Christmas plans

so, I'm thinking of not coming home for Xmas

1)flights are expensive and hard to book
2)I can't get many days off so the expense seems rather large
3)with only a week off or so, I don't want to spend over half of that jet lagged
4)I have friends here and wouldn't be too lonley
5) maybe I'll go back to Beppu to see friends there?
6)or travel around Japan
7) or spend $2000 on something other than a really long flight that will leave me realing with jet lag..
8) unless someone wants to meet me in another Asian country for Xmas (I think Singapore or Thailand would be fun)
9) a relaxing break would be nice
10) or I might be able to make extra cash freelancing


Thursday, September 15, 2005

one foot after another

I've been talked into running a 5K race in Oct. I'm hoping my coworkers are as slow as I am

this space left intentionally blank

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

JR in major

today I taught the words ‘settle in,’ which I described as becoming comfortable with. I think she was too polite to exclaim, “I don’t have a clue what your trying to tell me…”

well, at least the kids’ classes when well. I was really excited when a dad came with the kid. usually it’s just the moms and the kids. and since this was one of my babies (less than 2 years) a parent comes into the class with them. and today there was a dad. I wanted to make a big deal of it, but contained myself. the cultural gendertyping was not what I meant by ‘settling into.’

I meant the trains. (ie JR—Japanese Railway—in a major key (not a sad minor key))

I’m still not thrilled that my commute is so long, but I’m getting into a good groove with it.

On TuThSat, when I go to KM, I get the paper and read on the way to work. I draw some of my high level lessons from the current events and feel more connected to the crazy world.

on Wed/Fri I go to Shinonome (Shnnme) and take a train from my station, Shinkoiwa, to Tokyo station, race from one end of the station to the other (650meters—nearly half a mile) to catch a different line for about 4 stops and get off to switch trains again.

The trains into Tokyo in the morning and out in the evening are packed (that means very crowded, like sardines—or so I explained a few weeks ago in an E class). smooshed. barely standing room. but you gotta go… and I’m not even commuting on peak hours. that’s when the professional train pushers come out, or so I’m told.

so at first I tried other routes that didn’t take me through Tokyo station, to avoid the crowds, but they just weren’t working out. so I started grooving to Ani and random music while packed in between busy Japanese shoppers, business men and women, students, and teeny boppers. but now I have a new special Shnnme commuting mix. It consists of a bright major key from Shinkoiwa to Tokyo station (Paul Simon) and techno for racing across Tokyo station. and then a mix of more Paul Simon plus Great Big Sea, Ani, Commitments, Alix Olson, Better than Ezra… ect.

imagine a packed train. I’m smooshed against the door

watching the laundry of Tokyo blow in the wind as the train speeds by apartments.
watching neon signs advertise NOVA, GEOS, and other English schools
watching the businessman fast asleep, pocket protector with one pen
watching the girl in a JHS uniform send emails on her pink Mickey phone
watching the old lady with died hair fix her scarf, she wears practical heals and carries an umbrella for the sun
watching the impatient, eager, pretty 20 something put on lipstick (she got a seat)
watching the counterpart eager 20something read a comicbook the size of the telephone book (he’s holding onto a strap with one hand and the comic in the other)

I’m watching Japan go about its day
I’m watching a typical day
I’m living a typical day

As Alix Olson says, watching “so many hearts pushed together and beating”

and Paul Simon croons, “why deny the obvious child” and the drum in the background makes me smile. I have a secret soundtrack in a major key. I am carving a place for myself in this strange and beautiful land.

Monday, September 12, 2005


I’ve decided, after being asked for a friend for advice on whether she should go out with on a date with a guy we randomly picked-up to accompany us to go Salsa dancing, that I should make a checklist for going out a second time with someone I meet in Japan. (and maybe it has some personal application to…)

what am I forgetting? thoughts?

interesting—will I walk away from the night yawning or check my watch at 3 am and be surprised that I’m captivated.

unique—is he/she a dime a dozen. will he/she teach you anything new about anything. if they don’t have anything to teach, or any journey past-pressent to discuss, don’t bother.

dangerous/safe—no means no asshole, so a score of 1 or 2 is completely unacceptable. 3 or 4 means that you have to repeat yourself and maybe figure out how to get home on your own but aren’t in danger. ok to figure language barrier into the equation

physical chemistry

purpose—always an evolving factor, but either the purpose of another date or in life is acceptable to judge. is it $$$$$. or more than that, I mean personal outlook on life. do things happen to you or do you activily do things in your life.

desperate factor (as some sort of ratio between his/hers and mine)

quality of suggestions—if you are going to ask me to a movie, you better be OK with talking and laughing through it. bonus is you invite me to climb some hill lesser known than Mt. Fuji at 3am. specific wins points over general. ok to consider an invitation in part because you couldn’t afford (meaning$$) to go alone

as the gorgeous and infallibly sexy Ani DiFranco says
i want somebody who sees the pointlessness
and still keeps their purpose in mind
i want somebody who has a tortured soul
some of the time
i want somebody who will either put out for me
or put me out of misery
or maybe just put it all to words
and make me go, you know
i never heard it put that way
make me say, what did you just say?

i want somebody who can hold my interest
hold it and never let it go
someone who can flatten me with a kiss
that hits like a fist
or a sentence, that stops me like a brick wall
if you hear me talking
listen to what i'm not saying…

Sunday, September 11, 2005


pic of me taken by my friend and fellow Ye Ol' Eikaiwa, fresh off the boat teacher, and salsa dancing enthusiast, Allison

so far, even the busy trains and people everywhere have not made me feel like I’m in a big American city. it doesn’t have the same city quality. but tonight I went to Roppongi—famous for foreign food, tourists, clubs galore, and being the most dangerous place in Tokyo. but not so dangerous compared to even Eugene or Seattle, I think. but, for the first time, I felt the same sense that I have in a big city. it’s the “where exactly is my wallet and why are you talking to me, response” Strangers were aggressive (and foreign) the sex trade seemed obvious (and also foreign but probably E. European).

My friend Allison and I went to find a Salsa club, which was quite a bust because it is Sunday and all decent Japanese people work on Monday morning. but we did find one and in mean time had some really good Indian food (after getting directions at a Starbucks, I continue to decline to drink their sludge).

so overall, it was an uneventful evening… but with the seemingly large capacity for disaster in the area, I’m OK with that

maybe I’ll go back with some of my guy friends. hey Dan, when are you going to visit, already??

stage 2

though, I’m not sure what stage one was, exactly… maybe it was the 8 classes I taught that day and the one drink before dinner. maybe it was all the meat on a stick type things for dinner and no carbos to soak up the alcohol. (and there was horse, for sure, this time—and can’t eat cow with a clear conscience and not eat horse, so I eat raw horse when necessary. Its actually really good…. if you like raw red meat)

and then, we went to a Mexican bar with fake cactuses and tequila. ‘we’ being two other English teachers, Kevin and Yoshi (see morning train post for pics) and Yoshi’s friend, Cala.

and then there was Stage2

hip hop club with a cover that included a drink. a hip hop club with crappy djs that would play with the beat whenever I could get into it a little. and then there was the live act.

then there were live Japanese rappers. bling bling and all. if I wasn’t so exhausted, I would have pissed myself laughing. In Japanese, as far as I can tell, you can say things are funny as in they are interesting (omoshiroi) or they are strange (okashi). or you can say that something makes you want to laugh—but most people don’t use that phrase. so, all I can say it was more okashi than I would have expected.

Friday, September 09, 2005

phonics and feminism

in otherwords, I teach whatever I want. as long as it's in English.

yesterday I discussed feminism in Japan with one of my high level students.
today I'm pissed that I seem to have lost my favorite lipstick.

I'm getting lost less. commute pic inclosed

I'm setteling in a bit more every day.
I'm fighting both exhaustion and insomnia. funny that.
my feeting are pissed. --blister pic, inclosed

but I hope to go salsa dancing in tokyo this weekend with a teacher from training anyway.

I'm shooting for 5 posts a week. sorry I'm slacking this week. once I get a bit more organized, I should have more interesting, less scattered perhaps, things to say...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

daily trials

it may seem ridiculous, but I'm having a difficult doing laundry. for one, the buttons on the machine are in Japanese. but I can read the 'start-o' button and my socks are dirty... so I give it a try with moderate success. moderate meanign I can get part of the cycle going and then it stops for some reason I can't comprehend. and I can get it going again.

it stops with standing water. and the Japanese still perfer the traditional way of drying cloths... slowly dripping dry in 80% humidity. so here is an artsy pic of a dripping sock.

I hope you have better luck seperating your metaphorical colors from your metaphorical whites.

btw: I've set up IM with msn.
tiger_logic a@t
you know what I mean, you non-bot friends of mine.
add me if you like, we can compare time zones.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I'm za English MAAAstaaaar

or so the strange Japanese guy in the green bandana claimed.

last night I went out with my new English friend Andy (I may have mistakenly claimed he was Aussie... this is not right. and not the best of things to mess up in the memory banks either) on Sunday night. We went to a local izakaiya (sp?), loosely translated to a japanese bar/restuant, I think it's more similar to a Spanish bar that serves tapas. It's nice to hang out with someone who speaks the same language. even if it's trivial shit.

it was nice, he worked for Ye Ol' Eikaiwa for a couple of months out in a small town before quitting to freelance teach. he says there is quiet a market for navite English speakers who understand and can intelligently critique technical/biotech documents. a niche waiting to be filled. Currently, with Ye Ol' Eikaiwa, I have a private student who owns a biotech firm and says that the J. biotech industry is really scrambling to try and figure out how to compete with the Am.s.

it's nice to think that if this job doesn't work out and I want to stay in Japan, I have more options than trying to get a job at hotel MORE.

Anyway, eventually we got befriended by a group of very drunk Japanese guys, including one with a lime green bandana, who all played in a Samba percussion band. fuking random, but really fun.

top questions from strange drunk japanese, in some manner of english translation:
where are you from
how long have you been here
where do you live now
are you students
what is your dream (we'd say 'what do you want to be when you grow up?')
how old are you

and one that they avoided but that Andy had just been discussing as the number one top cultural question (and eventually quite annoying):

do you like natto?

they were so drunk that when they left they forgot a couple bottles of beer. lucky us.

To say the least, I'm really enjoying my little adventure.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

catching the morning train

my intrepid co-workers, Kevin and Yoshi. with so much karaoke practice they will be gods to the teeny boppers and be able to quit their teaching jobs soon.

On Sat. my last train leaves at 11:37pm. so, most people stay out later and I wanted to too. I miss having good friends where I don’t have to second guess my sense of humor ect. So I figured I can wait for the 5am train, it’s another rite of baka gaijin passage. Or you can crash at a friend’s house, which is also common.

So Saturdays are busy at English schools. Some of my students work 12 hours a day during the week and so they come to KM school on Saturdays. These are the same classes that were really worried that if I don’t like to drink, the whole social circle of Sat night will fall apart.

We go out. there is much drinking and food. my boss keeps ordering me more drinks.

this is my boss, Akemi:

I think she’s sooo pretty. and she’s so hilarious because she hardly sleeps and works all the time because being the manager of KM is a big deal. apparently, KM is considered a VIS (very important school) and therefore if we aren’t making enough money the head office comes down on her. she drinks white wine. she thinks I look like Julia Roberts

so we go out with the students and teachers… maybe 12 of us total. I ate something like spagetti with octopus ink… I think. It was good. turned my lips black. and salad with something very raw.. maybe salmon. ect ect

everyone thinks I should try natto again…. ( the only Japanese food that I currently refuse to eat. It’s rotten spoiled rancid soy beans. I don’t care how healthy it is, it’s foul!)

then after food there was Karaoke (Kevin, Yoshi and I). this is a different phenomena than in America. friends rent a small room together and order lots of beer or whatever and sing. there is an extensive list of Japanese and English songs. it’s more acceptable to sing horribly and with ferver than not to sing at all. the best ones are when you have the whole drunken room singing with you.

really, it’s more similar to an SCA bardic than to Am. karaoke.

so there was singing for hours. songs (mine and otherwise) included Wonderwall, Bridge over Troubled water, Cherish, some smashing pumpkins ect ect. I think its hilarious.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

near my place

the hiragana says ‘iro iro au’ which I think means, roughly, ‘various meetings’

I hate complaining, but my apartment is expensive and my commute is long and complicated. so, when people ask how’s life… I’ve mentioned getting lost and spending so much time on the train, not expecting anything. But, apparently, I’ve made a better friend with the head teacher in the area than I thought, and she’s trying to find a new, closer, place to live.

That would be sooooo wonderful. I spent 2-3 hours a day commuting (round trip). and I usually can’t use the time for anything but people watching. so keep your eyes open for an update on a new addy. and keep you fingers crossed for me!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

passed out

For the first time I slept on the train to work. It's a common occurance for Japanese people. You'll see seven in a row, zonked out, maybe zonked kids in their arms, swaying unconscienly with the motion of the train. If the train is crowded then there will also be a number of them asleep, standing, waking up just before they fall down from the lurking.

I try not to sleep because I’m afraid I’ll miss my stop. So I crank up my iShuffle and listen to Ani and people watch (I find it a hilarious soundtrack but its good for getting me pumped up ------Paul, thank you for all the new stuff. It’s making my morning, day after day.)

If I can figure out how to make my camera take silent picutures I want to take picts of peoples foot wear. Buisness man, leather loafers, next to gen X ish with sandles that have sparkly shells glued to them, next to early twenty guy with metalica shirt and converse, next to a school girl with the pleated skirt, high white socks and penny loafers ect ect. I find it amusing to an extreme but it’s hard to relate without a good pic.