Tuesday, February 28, 2006

mentally challenged

if you could get a hold of a legitamate and official looking pin that said, "Challenged Person" on it, what would you do?

what would you do if everyone believed that you were a few fries short of a Happy Meal?

so after staying out all night Saturday, drinking enough beer for two weekends combinded, breathing in enough second hand smoke at bars to fill a 6 month quota, and not getting to sleep until after 5am, I was finally heading home Sunday. It was a very rainy day, but I was happy. nearly giddy in a I-feel-so-young-and-alive sort of way. It was 3pm and I felt I generally had my wits about me. My stomach was mostly settled and I was mostly awake. I smelled of nasty stale cigarrette smoke and was obsessing about drinking grape soda while waiting for the train home when a stranger aproaches me.

Now, the Japanese have the advantage of being realitively ageless compared to Westerners, so I don't konw if this guy was 18 or 30. He very intently walks up to me and says, "Oneechan! Onechan! Hisashiburi onechan!"

or roughly, "Older sister! Older sister! Long time no see sister!"

I'm a little confused. A little more that a little.

and as he keeps talking to me, he snuggles up against me as he sweetly takes my hand and I notice the bright yellow tag safety pinned to his puffy vest. There about 4 lines of Japanese that I can't read and in clear English letters, "Challenged Person"

about this time I remember that "Onechan" can also be translated more generally to 'young woman.' still, this kid seems to act like he knows me. He lifts his head from my nasty smelling coat and starts looking a little worried. eyes big round and innocent he asks me, again with intensity that could win an Oscar,
"Onechan, genki desu ka?"
"Are you OK/healthy?"

"sure sure" I answer in some manner of Japanese. I consider no pretending I don't speak any Japanese but figure it's too late for that and he probably wouldn't care.

He grabs my hand protectively and snuggles up against my filthy coat again. I glance around. Is he supervised? Am I supposed to turn him in somewhere? Am going to be accused of some horrible crime by letting this "Challenged Person" snuggle up to me and hold my hand in the subway?

I'm so confused. I'm still obsessing over a grape soda.

I ask him where he's going. Maybe I can get a clue. In typical Japanese fashion, he returns with, "Onechan, where are you going?"

I lie. Tokyo (meaning the station, the next one). He walks up to the map and a nice lady points to where we are (Shimbashi) and where Tokyo is. He seems satisfied and comes back to hold my hand.

I'm so confused.

The train arrives. I'm a little worried but he holds my hand tightly and pulls me into the train. He then lets go of my hand and finds a seat for me. He tell me I should sit down so I don't catch cold. I look at the poor woman who would have to sit by me and my morning after Roppongi funk. No, I can't bear to subject anyone else to this funk.

I tell my friend, 'thanks but I'm OK' he nods and starts walking down the train. he stops to talk to people, most are friendly, a few are cold, I don't see anyone else hold his hand. Tokyo station comes and goes and I head home.

After a shower (where I try and smell my wet shampoo-y hair to see if it still smells of smoke and inhale water instead) and some more food (and, oh yes, magical grape soda that is the cure all for all problems except cavities) I ponder the encounter.

sure, it was a little unnerving at first but I kinda wish more strangers would walk over to me and hold my hand. I mean, if I could get away with it, I think I'd go up to strangers and hold their hand. I guess we all have our 'challenged moments,' some people just have them more frequently than others. This I think as I try and get the shampoo-y water that I inhaled out of my nose and drinking my second grape soda....

Alix Olson (lesbo slam poet genius) says that,
"we've all got these hidden lives
that's why crazy folk got shining eyes
we take our lies and hold them up as true
they take what's inside and let it shine through

and truth
is kinda crazy"

all in all, another surreal vaguely reflective day in Tokyo. I love this life.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

snuffle rooster

I have a lot to write about in the last week.

I had the first couch surfer stay with me.

almost quit my biotech gig.

got observed for a day but a pseudo big shot teacher.

spent the night out at karaoke in Roppongi.
I'll write more about each when I get a chance but util then: here's teh email I sent to myself last night:

(no subject)

to me 2:12 am (14 hours ago)

nstersrntffle ro

I was trying to remind myself that at the time "snuffle-rooster" was really really ridiculously funny late Saturday night.

and the journey continues

EDIT: the ezweb address is edited out because I dont' want to spam on that address. it's for my phone so when I get an email there my phone rings or buzzes and wakes me up. a better way to reach me is though my gmail or priest account. don't know? just ask. Down with spam bots!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

rainy disney

bright and bushy tailed we emabarked on a trip to the magical kingdom.

as pre arranged (and pre-ordained, one could argue) we met at The Boy's apartment at 10am. Five of us pried ourselves away from a warm spacious apartment stocked with delicious Costco grapes and Olympic Curling on AFN (American Forces Netowork) and prepared for our journey.

we squeezed into The Boy's car, believing it to be the proper medium to convey us to the magical disney land. as there were five of us and we were in high spirits, it seemed a better choice than fighting trains packed with less jovial Japanese Salarymen.

after an hour and a half of getting lost and driving (mistakenly) around the imperial palace, we were losing faith in the superior qualities of the personal automobile rather than public transportation. After yelling out the window at cab drivers in broken Japanese asking for directions and nearly killing two bicyclists (they were prepared for their narrowly escaped fate, already fit with serious expressions and wearing black), we found our way to the Magic kingdom.

our jovialness had turned to anxious giddyness as our hunger and bathroom needs compounded the longer than neccessary sleigh ride. however, after the appropriate recepticals and stalls were visited, energy consumption comensed and soon we were back to our originial and quickly soaring jovialness.

Even though it was raining and the dear weather men promised more rain all day, our spirits were not as ready to get wet as our shoes. We finally left the parking lot and boarded the Disney Train and headed to Tokyo Disney Sea (not to be confused with Tokyo Disney Land, which is for munchins. not stupid adults. which we promised to be.)

after inadvisably skipping through cold puddles and acting like loud overly sugared American children we were ready to head to our first ride: Journey to the Center of the Earth. oooo aaaah. it was pretty sweet. and since it was a monday it was only a 25 minute wait (or so they said, felt much faster, but such is life with friends, eh?)

next was 20,000 leagues under the sea. I imagine it was much better if you understood the constant Japanese narration, but as it was we were not impressed. Next we were headed to Indianna Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull... but first we needed popcorn. oh yes. and lots of it.

in the car we began to fantasize about one of our companions described as "popcorn feed bags" that come in all sorts of flavors and you hang around your neck. we were ridiculously excited to find them. and in coconut flavor.

the boys demonstrate:

as you can imagine, we quickly became just another spectical of Disney Land as we chowed down on popcorn and then cackled loudly at ourselves. we had a blast and as the day got colder and rainier, the crowds thinned out.

after more rides and too much popcorn we took a coffee/soup break to warm up. by the time we got out it had gotten dark and the park was quiet empty. aparently, the japanese are no match for cold soggy feet. it was really fun because there was no wait for any of the rides.

we were the champions, the survivors, and as we rode the rides for the 3rd, 4th, 5th, time we made sure to yell out a lu lu lu lu lu trilling battle cry. as the rides began and ended and anywhere that gave us inspiration in between we would trill in unison

lu lu lu lu lu lu lu lu lu

and by the time we left we could hear other brave groups yell out the same battle cry to let a good time not be ruined by wet feet and stomach aches caused by extrodinary amounts of popcorn. it was a battle cry that began sincerly and ended in giggles. it was a great signiture for a hell of a day.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

a nitty gritty, not especially witty update

so my weekend looks like it will be quiet full. so really I should get to bed. but I don't feel like it. as usual. it's less and less like insomnia and more just like obstanance. I would have had another beer with my co-workers but they wanted to go see Munich and I wasn't interested in some serious movie. So it's 2am and I'm online instead. Damn. I'd rather be out. but I have the rest of the weekend for that.

the plan:

tomorrow (Sunday) meet Mick (friend from Beppu) for undecided adventures. I don't know if he has a plan or not. I certainly don't. but I usually don't. so it's all good. I'll get to practice my Japanese and who knows....

depending on how long we are out, may go out dancing or out with The Boy (editor's note: "the boy" is not my "boyfriend" as usual, definitions are hazy but really "boyfriend" doesn't describe the arrangement. ) and his other English teacher friends. or not.

Monday: Tokyo Disney Land. oh yeah baby. you know you're jealous. though we may go to Tokyo Disney Sea instead, which is more for adults and allows drinking. this misadventure (if there's drinking it's got to be a misadventure) will be with The Boy and his friends. we may run over small children. I may have to hide from my munchin students. I may act like a complete fool. I'm not sure what Tokyo Disney will inspire. What strange urges will it create. What trouble will I be compelled to cause.

updates will comense as possible. naturally.

but in other past events:

I totally kicked the ass of the stupid evil cold taht the toddlers gave me. I'm much better. I didn't even go out to karaoke and ruin my voice again. I am so good.

I changed up my commute to Shnnme. It's still 3 different lines to get there but the new route is less crowded (and therefore less germ infested, damn Tokyo rats) and less than an hour! Swaheet. Less than an hour. it's a little more expensive but Ye Ol' Eikaiwa pays, so I don't care. I'm totally psyched. plus it's always good to shake things up a bit.

KM got a new manager! my friend Akemi has left/quit or something. when I asked she just kept saying "Mini Me!!!" "Mini Me!!!" which is code for "I need my usualy 3 glasses of socho on the rocks before I'll discuss this" So I'm sad that my friend isn't there anymore.

but the new manager (Junko) seems to have her shit together much better. though her English is worse, but I'll just get to practice my Japanese more, right? ne? ne?

no news about the alterna-job other than that I'M COMPLETELY RETHINKING THE WHOLE THING. God, I'm such a dork. Everytime I get what I want I realize I don't want it. Slap me now.

but the thing is taht I realized that editing doesn't make me nearly as happy as teaching. so maybe I shouldn't be in such a hurry to ditch the teaching gig. really science didn't make me nearly this happy. so why should I go back?

I had a good conversation with The Boy about this and asked him, "Don't you think it's ridiculous that I want a job more presitgious than teaching? Doesn't that make me like a horrible person for wanting something just because it give me better bragging rites?"

but he laughed at me and reminded me that for any guy you always want something that most prestigious because that's how you can get the most chicks. doesn't matter how much the plumber makes. the chicks want the Lawyer/Politician/Docotor.

so I felt better getting that out of my system and realizing that I really just do love teaching. Plus some of the textbooks are at the 6 month mark of when I got here so I already have a bunch of the lessons planned and made and stored away! super cool. way less work from here on out. this is gonna rock.

It is unfortunate that I look completely evil in this picture.

I also got my bike put together and went on an awesome ride last weekend. I took a couple of pics. I'll try and make a post soemtime soon. there were two awesome matching stray cats. and a really old guy rollerblading. and Pony Land. who could ask for more?

and finally, I have a new neighbor that I'm looking forward to meeting properly. So there's a Ye Ol' Eikaiwa in Shinkoiwa with one Native teacher, who lives in my apartment building. we briefly met and other than being impressed with his British accent, I really don't know anythng about him. yet. that's exciting too.

so things are good. of course they go up and down but the average is high.
updates on old friends and Tokyo Disney Adventures coming soon.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

the latest brilliant bad idea (and other thoughts about changing the world)

I know you were all holding your breath waiting for a post titled this.

no: I'm not going to sell textbooks door to door in Texas (again)
no: I'm not joining the Army
no: I'm not going back to graduate school

don't worry: I have (mostly) gotten over my obsession with the benifits of hickhiking
don't worry: I'm not moving (or if I do, it won't be out of the Tokyo megalopolis)
don't worry: I'm not getting hitched

I've only become obsessed with a new travel website. only.

That's right. I plan to travel somewhere (TBA) and stay with someone I've only met online. Sounds great, doesn't it!

sure sure. this probably sounds like a bad idea. is it safe? there are ax muders out there, ect. hostels aren't that expensive, ect. but in my opinion this is not just better than sliced wonder bread, this is better than sliced pumpernickle.

This is the pic for my profile on www.couchsurfing.com. my caption is
"this is not meant as a political statement"

someday, I'll write an entry about the new boy, but skipping that for now, I'll relate soemthing that he said that really impressed me. We were out to dinner with some KM school people and Akemi asks him, "What is your dream?"

the boy answers that he hopes to really touch and make a difference in just one person's life. to make just one person's world a better place.

(this is the best picture I will ever post of him. yup.)

it's a nice answer but I was particularly impressed because the boy isn't an English Teacher or average struggling expat. He works for the US Embassy. He's a diplomat. So saying that his dream was to touch one person's life seemed kinda modest and sweet. (I'm such a hopeless sucker, I know.)

But, returning to my ranting about "couchsurfing.com" (which the boy is a member too) I have a similar attitude. I'm thinking more and more about how I can make the world a better place. If I don't go into science and stop aging (sorry dad) or pioneer the regrowth of limbs (again, sorry dad), I still feel like I need to make a positive difference in the world. and I think this is one way

I think everytime you can show that you haven't given up on the goodness in people

everytime you take a stand and say, "I will not lead a jaded suspicious life"

everytime you make a new friend by saying something real or keep an old one by staying honest

everytime look a stranger in the eye and smile (sure sure, I had someone act all creepy towards me on the train after smiling at him, but I'm not going to let one creep stop me from smiling. seriously!)

everytime you make a connection with someone and the world becomes a little less full of strangers but rather full of friends you haven't met

another quote I've been rereading lately comes to mind:

"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit." Dawna Markova

and so all these are reasons why I'm so drawn to the couch surfing project. of course there are creeps out there. of course there are dangers. of course there are all sorts of horrible things that happen if I dare to go outside (even in the daylight!) of course I need a safe back up plan. of course there are things to be wary of.

I understand these evil truths. but I chose not to let them ruin my life. so I'm joining couch surfing and going to meet other people who also choose to not let these evil truths dictate their life.

I also hardily suggest checking out the site. and if you join I'll vouch for you and maybe vica versa. come on Dan, don't you think the coop would dig this? Paul, between you and Casey this seems like something you'd get a kick out of. For my friends who are commited to grad school, the world could come to you! Murray, Maddie, Dad and other wanderlusters you've got to check this out.

I'm totally psyched.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

for my lonliest friends:

New creepiest email from stranger WINNER:

Subject: hello dear

Message: Hello how are u.. Iam male . My name is
Mehrullahkhan .. I wanna real friendship with u..
accept my friendship dont ignore me plz . and
reply me soon as soon possible.. i well waiting for
u ..
.. my Yahoo is
Tell me ur
yahoo id ? then i add to u ..
i have webcam.. u tell me u have webcam?
take care bye now .. iam on line this time ..


and this isn't even from one of the dating sites. this is from "Friendster."
even if it wasn't kinda creepy and pathetic certain abreviations lead to immediate disqualification. like "you are" or "your" to 'ur' Certain locations, such as Pakastan, also lead to immediate disqualification. I'd link his pic just because it's funny, but I feel that's just too mean.

and the online adventures continue...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

keyboard goes tippity tappity

some of my friends have recently been waxing philosophic about why they blog, and I’ve been inspired to do the same.

1) I’m just such an awesome person that everyone wants to read all about the mundane details of my extraordinary life.


I find that when I write a lot, I make my life more interesting because I want more interesting things to report. It encourages me to be more responsible for my life. It encourages me to seize the day. Every weekend should be an adventure. When I don’t write my days blend together and I forget that I’m making progress. (toward what? I don’t know. but it’s better than treading water) so I write. might as well let you eavesdrop, no?

2) There was this girl from crazy group who said that she always wrote more when she was happy so that she had her own inspiring words for when she was down.

For the record, I’m sure she’d be glad I was sharing this. But regardless of the ethics of sharing confidential conversations, I think it’s a good idea. and I want to make it work for me. I haven’t really yet. When I only wrote for myself, it was mostly the bad depressing stuff. But I also wrote in the exciting moments and the falling in love moments. That writing still doesn’t cheer me up, like the girl suggested, but it’s a nice goal.

3) Keep in touch.

Of course one of the main purposes of this blog is to keep in touch with everyone. that’s why I appreciate the comments so much. I try and reply when I can. If I replied more, would people comment more?

But then there is this question about content. What to write? Who to write for? I must say, I am conscience of my family in the audience, esp. my grandparents reading this. Naturally, there are things that get left out.

I’m sure all my ex-roomates could imagine what goes on between the lines.

My friend Dave once told me that not to worry about posting PG rated posts because he reads blogs like postcards. He doesn’t read them for the juicy details of exploits and misadventures but rather just to see how people are generally doing. How bad are the rats in my slummy apartment? Do they speak Japanese? That’s the kinda content he said he wanted. Do you still agree Dave?

I’m sure someone wants to know the torrid details of what happened when a bunch of us when out to Monja-yaki (a type of do-it-yourself super yummy resturant) last weekend. But alas, I don’t think this is the place for such stories.

My mom once told me that I should post whatever I wanted and not to worry if everyone might get to know me a little too well. They can take it, she said. It’d be good for you to shake up their image of you, she told me. Give us a chance to see you as an adult.

I’m still hesitant, though. Adult is one thing, detailed stories are another. I think the line is in a good spot, but I miss having people to tell these type of stories to.

But that’s just for the revelry, which isn’t a consuming part of my life. I’m not posting my thoughts about my mom much either. In fact, since December I haven’t posted anything sad.

I’ve written plenty, but haven’t posted any of it. Why?

*I hate people worrying because I don’t feel it’s productive.
*I don’t really want comments on it. I don’t really want to talk about it when I’m not in the mood anymore.
*I feel like Japan is the best place for me to be, regardless of whether I’m happy or sad. I feel I’m balanced here. and that’s all this crazy can pray for, really.
*I don’t really want to skim my blog and re-read it. I get it out, it’s cathartic, I feel better.

I know I responded to my friends’ posts about whether to post angsty entries or not with a resounding: post it all.

but I guess I don’t really, so who am I to say? but I still post a lot. and so I feel that makes up for it a little.

I don’t know. What is this tippity tappity noise my keyboard is making? What power does it hold? What power can I harness?

What kind of posts will inspire you all to comment?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

the words that inspire me (part I)

often when I live alone I read out loud to myself. Recently I've been re-reading a couple of passages that I find comfort and inspiration in. I want to redesign my blog so that I have a spot to post the words that are currently inspiring me. Until then, here are some of the things that I recite to myself before work and/or before bed. I plan to post more and if any of you have suggestions, I'd love if you passed them on.

This one uncle Jim sent me. Maybe he can remind me of the author and the title? I don't know if the breaks are the same as in the original, but it's how I've taken to reading out loud. I'm going to post it on my wall and read it before heading out everyday. It rocks that much.

One day you finnally knew
what you had to do, and began
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--

though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles

"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.

But you didn't stop
you knew what you had to do

though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible

It was already late,
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind
the stars began to burn
through the sheet of clouds,

and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own

that kept you company
as you stode
deeper and deeper
into the world

determined to do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Monday, February 06, 2006

meme (remember, it ryhmes with dream)

usually, I'm against posting memes. just for me personally. I like reading other peoples. but I took this one and I loved the questions. I want to use memes in a few of my classes. but I'm not sure how. ideas? the vocab is too hard on this one, but many are much simpler.


Which is most like you?
"I love a challenge and strive to conquer it at all costs"

At your best you are:
A great story teller and explorer

At your worst you:
Have trouble committing to others

When you're in love, you:
Are hard to catch, but are prone to get serious quickly when caught

In friendship you:
Have a ton of casual friendships but very few good friends

If you become a great success, it will be because:
You're bright, and you love a good challenge

Which is most true for you?
"I find that I am usually the first on eto volunteer for something"

Your ideal lover is:
Independent and tolerant of all your flirting

You Are a Seeker Soul

You are on a quest for knowledge and life challenges.
You love to be curious and ask a ton of questions.
Since you know so much, you make for an interesting conversationalist.
Mentally alert, you can outwit almost anyone (and have fun doing it!).

Very introspective, you can be silently critical of others.
And your quiet nature makes it difficult for people to get to know you.
You see yourself as a philosopher, and you take everything philosophically.
Your main talent is expressing and communicating ideas.

Souls you are most compatible with: Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul

first propoganda, then 9/11

or at least that was the order of the clubs in Roppongi last weekend. My friend's (ok, ok, I guess I can introduce him as "the new boy") birthday was Saturday and so we hit the town after work. He lives in Roppongi, the foriegner night life neighborhood in Tokyo.

You know you've settled into life in Japan when too many white faces in one space make you nervous. It's like you have to watch your wallet again. Like you have to be careful of all these things that you are always careful of in America but get slack about in Japan because there is so little crime.

I sometimes forget to really appreciate how safe I feel in Japan. There are many things taht factor into "quailty of life" like having enough money for rent AND food. Or the length and stress of your commute. Or the amount of green in your neighborhood. Ease of communication, ease of excersize and access to chosen social circles/hobbies. These are all important and some are better or worse than in America. But when I walk home at night and don't feel as scared as I did on the U of O campus, that is a huge difference. I think that constant drip of adrenaline that I felt when I left or stayed at the lab really late is really bad for the health.

So I guess I'm just ramblin but trying to say taht it is so nice to both live in a huge city and not feel in danger all the time. how crazy is taht? It's like a totally foriegn experience!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Story Time (updated)

I took these pics today with my snazzy camera phone and they beg a good story. But I know I'm not the only writer in this crazy family. So, I'll put together a good story but I want you to send in some too. If you email them to me, I'll post them as entries. You choose which pics, which order. Write me a good story. I'm working on one for you.

Nothing like taking pictures of other peoples' kids, eh?

And the only entrant was my dear also compulsive writer father. his story:
Wait a minute. What's that over there? Gotta get these eye stalks adjusted.
Mighty orange, contrasting with the gray. It's moving about, sort of
bouncing along. Skipping. Yes, yes, it's coming closer. Bouncing. Seems we
want this. What now? Stopped? Nooo. Oh. Looking my way. Yes, yes, come on,
come closer. I'll release some of my caramel corn oder attractant. The
breeze is wafting it tword it. It's WORKING! The little morsel approaches. I
can't contain my excitement. My flagella tail is thrashing all around behind
me. I'm just like a cat who's getting petted too hard. Can't stop the
twitching. Getting worse. Have everything behind me kicked up into a froth.
Water is blasting up into a wall from my other appendages. Ahhh .. but it's
happening. Te orange thing comes closer still. Patience. Patience. Damn that
tail. Shut that up, will ya. You'll scare it. But no, still it approaches.
Yes, it's curiosity is piqued. I can see it. See the little round eyes
peering in wonderment.

Yes ... I am so wonderful. I am shooting water all over. Just a few moments.
A few more. Closer. Come on. It's sniffing, smelling the good caramel. Ahh
yes. Now BEFORE ME. LOOKING IN!. I'll gurgle a little. HAH, it's leaning in.
NOW! NOW! Now I BITE.CHOMP!. I GOT IT! Glomping,glosshing. My glands have
exploded. Gushing the dissolving acid. Oh sho tashsty. Mush glomp,
gloshingish globberimsh gooshgobblegabba glommergasha glommer. My mouth is
overflowing with gushing goodness of glommeraberating gaamatatage.

Oh the sweet munching of the munchkin. The delicious swallowing of ground
bones and guts. The oozing overflow from my gaping maw. Ahhhh ...Ahhha

.. BURP!

breathing a little easier

The cold is finally getting better (day 6). I'm still coughing like it's a contest in the TB ward and all sorts of green yummy nastiness keeps oozing from my nose. but I feel better.

I went all day with out cold medication. That's got to spell improvement.

I've been at head office doing training for the last two days with about 15 other teachers (more on those details later) but in the minmal level it has given me the energy to just listen and cough and recover a little. Tomorrow I have classes again and I'm not especially looking forward to jumping around with the munchkins again. Sinuses still not being especially cooperative with teh rapid movement and excitement. Voice still sounds strange. but feeling better.