Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Best Day of My Life?...

Oh no...
I made have made the biggest mistake ever...

So it all started when my DS charger decided it didn't want to work anymore, so now it doesn't.  After a few weeks of bumming charges off my friends, I finally had enough time to go get a new one.  Now, from previous wanderings around my town, I knew of two gaming shops.  One had a shit ton of posters on the outside, so I couldn't see in, and the other was very open and FULL of stuff.   Because the poster-covered one was closer, I decided to try going to that one first to inquire about a new charger.

I thought it was a gaming store.



Of course, upon seeing this, I immediately forgot about my initial quest and plopped myself down for some shenanigans a la Hazama.  The entire place had this really local-ish vibe.  Like, as if evveryone that was in there was always in there at this time on this day of the week.  I got a lot of "IS THAT A HAKUJIN?!" stares.  It was great.  I'm HORRENDOUSLY out of practice, but I don't think I embarrassed myself TOO bad...

Once I kicked the shit out of boss Ragna (KICKED. THE. SHIT. OUT. OF. [even got a perfect! BAM!]), I resumed my mission.  This is where the big mistake part is.  I allowed myself to walk into a Japanese gaming store.


It really is everything I ever dreamed of and more.  Games I know.  Games I've never heard of.  Games from series I love that I didn't know EXISTED.

I bought my charger (cheaper than the Nintendo website claimed, fuckers...) and intend to go back



(I'll make a REAL post about events in my life soon, I promise...)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fuck you

What a phrase that is, "fuck you!"  Does it even have meaning anymore?  I really feel that the answer is yes.  It does have meaning, but the problem is that it has so many different meanings that it's just a convoluted mess.  Right now, I truly mean "fuck you" in the best possible way!  Right now, I'm using "fuck you" to mean "I honestly don't care what you think or what you have to say," but that is all!  Right now, I'm filled with emotion and each and every single one of them is positive.

This blog post is 100% dedicated to Greg Beckman.  I highly doubt he'll read this on his own, so Samantha and Samantha, it is up to you guys to make sure he does.  You may ask yourself why it is dedicated to him.  The answer is simple: it's because this blog post is written as an argument, as a direct antithesis for so much of what he taught about.  For those of you that don't know him, this may seem very confrontational, taunting, and mean.  Fuck all of you.  I know Greg Beckman, and I know that me arguing with something he says (specifically something he cares about) is quite possibly one of the highest compliments in his eyes.

It's been said that love is the highest emotion two people can feel for one another.  Beckman, you so often preached of how love is not an emotion one can feel for a thing or for a place or whatever.  Beckman, I may be half your age (and this time, this isn't some stupid "old" joke), but it still pains me how wrong you are.  Beckman, forgive my youthful arrogance, but I think that after how long you've known me you've at least picked up the fact that I won't open up my mouth unless I know I'm right.  This is one of those times. 

I am in love with Japan.  Full-fledged love. 

One can truly love a thing or a place or what have you, not out of selfish desire or want or shallow feelings, but because of how truly alive that thing can make you.  You can love a thing because of how truly you it makes you feel.  You can love a thing because it is so intrinsically part of you.

You can love a thing, you can love yourself, and it can slowly teach you how to open up and love others.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let's try again

I think I'm going to try to keep this thing updated at regular intervals from here on out.  I think I said that before, but, well... fuck you. 

I never imagined I'd be as busy as I am.  It is now the 11th of November.  The last time I got more than 6 hours of sleep in a night was somewhere in the neighborhood of October 23rd or 24th.  I've also only taken two naps in that period of time.  I don't know how I'm functioning, let alone as decently as I have been.  Midterms begin next week.  That means I probably still won't get sleep...  This is getting pretty lulzy.

I didn't really realize how long it's been since I've updated until I finally checked this thing again.  A lot's happened.  I joined a club!  I'm an unofficial member of the Oendan Brass Band (basically, the cheer band, the kind that plays at sports events and such).   The club is made up of three parts: the band (us), the cheerleaders, and the 'Leaders' (the awesome dudes that wear what look like high school uniforms that are a few sizes too big and do all the really cool yelling and hand gestures). I could theoretically be a member right now, but for my benefit, I'm "unofficial" in the eyes of people not in the band part.  If I was an actual member, I'd have to be taking part of this big event happening at the end of November.  This event is painfully ceremonious and steeped in tradition.  It seemingly consists of more bowing and apologizing to seniors than anything else.  To save me the trouble, time, energy, and protect me from harassment of seniors from the other parts of the club, the upper members of the band decided that I would become an "official" member after this event.  Honestly, with how much shit I've been being forced to do lately outside of club, I'm really thankful they're doing this for me.

Other than that, this club is awesome.  They meet and practice music, they perform at events, they make lots of jokes with each other, they cheer at games, but mostly they go out for drinks and karaoke.

My first actual even with the club was going to a hockey game.  It was a struggle to get to for a plethora of reasons.  Firstly, I had to meet a fellow club member at my train station at 8:30 in the morning.  All times before 9 AM should be illegal.  Even 9 AM is bad, but I'm willing to put up with it.  Secondly, we had to get there using a bunch of trains I'd never ridden on.  Normally I like riding a new line since it means a bunch of new sites to see and a new route to learn.  However, it was raining and cold and EIGHT THIRTY IN THE FUCKING MORNING.  I hate mornings.  Thirdly, I was taking this trip (which was decently long, but I was much too tired to bother with looking at a clock) with good ol' Murase-kun.  Murase doesn't know ANY English.  Murase speaks ridiculously fast Japanese even asking him to slow down.  Murase seems to think that if you understand ONE Japanese word, you must know ALL Japanese words.  Asking Murase to try to explain a word you don't understand mostly results in Murase saying the word over and over again, sometimes in a different sentence you also don't understand.  It also doesn't help that Murase has one of the strangest voices I've ever heard.  Coming from me, a man with a strange voice, that means a lot.  Half the time it makes him hard to understand, and the other half of the time I just spend listening to his voice and thinking "what a strange voice..." before realizing he was talking during that time and I should have been trying to understand.  All in all, those factors combined to make me feel very bad about my Japanese, more cranky, and more awkward than I already feel.  That's a lot, by the way.

We get to the station where everyone is supposed to meet.  We're amongst the first people there; a small group of the girl cheerleaders was already there.  They greeted Murase, he greeted them, and then they realized that I was actually with and following him.  He was greeted with "ohayou gozaimasu" and "otsukare"s.  I was greeted with blank stairs, stupid expressions, and the occasional overly excited wave and smile.  As time continued to pass, more cheerleaders would come walking over (there are 30 of them or so).  Each one would slowly realized that that white kid wasn't just standing nearby due to happenstance.  I think every single one of them stared blankly at me when they first saw me.  From there half of them would then greet me (either after realizing they were staring and going "OH!" or after getting ridiculously excited).  The other half just continued to stare blankly as they walked over to their group.  Some continued to stare a good amount of time AFTER joining up with their fellow cheerleaders. 

Finally, everyone showed up.  We were off.  Oh, I forgot to mention: there was a typhoon coming in the midst of this.  That's why it was rainy and cold.  So we start heading to the stadium thing, and I realize as soon as I get back in the rain that my fucking umbrella broke.  I was so sad.  I was so excited to use my umbrella.  I really really like umbrellas.  It was clear and had blue on it and I really liked it.  I think I've fixed it since then, but all of this is less important than my already unimportant story.  We continue to the stadium, but apparently the game before ours (WHO PLAYS HOCKEY THAT EARLY IN THE MORNING? WHO?) was still clearing out, so we had to wait outside a little longer.  In the rain and intense wind.  I really wasn't complaining too much, but honestly it was cold enough that even I was cold.  While we were waiting outside, I was talking adorable little Natu, our little leader girl in brass band that is SO ADORABLE I WANT TO TAKE HER EVERYWHERE OH MY GOD.  Her english is also the best, so when I can't understand or say something to her I generally have the best shot with her english skills helping me get the point anyway.  I didn't take into account the fact that Natu knows a good number of the cheerleaders.  Since I was talking to Natu, a group of cheerleaders decided this was their opportunity to strike.  The slunk over like prowling cats and asked a seemingly unimportant (Read: bullshit) question to Natu and then, OH MY GOODNESS!  A FOREIGNER! HELLO! NICE TO MEET YOU!  Yes, IT WAS THAT BLATANT AND OBVIOUS AND THEY DID IT ANYWAY.  I think they mostly said hello in Japanese, but one or two tried greeting me in English.  I responded in Japanese and, of course, THEY FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.  They introduced themselves in Japanese (I remember the names of NONE of them), and I introduced myself in Japanese.  THEY FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.  One of them told me my Japanese was so good and it sounded like I was fluent in Japanese.  I told her I was FAR from fluent and had a lot of work to do.  In Japanese. And, you guessed it, THEY FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.

But, no, that's just the BEGINNING of the story.  Now that CHEERLEADERS were over talking to me, that opened the floodgates.  A cheerleader talking to me meant that another cheerleader could come over and greet that cheerleader and then turn and OH, HELLO THERE!  Of course, she brought with her 4 friends who also ARE YOU A NEW MEMBER OF OUENDAN IT'S VERY NICE TO MEET YOU!  It follows, then, that that girl and her 4 friends all have more friends that saw this as their opportunity to walk over and ARE YOU FROM AMERICA?  The grilling continued for a decent amount of time.  I was struck very quickly by how forward this group of girls was, ESPECIALLY for a group of Japanese girls.  BUT IT DIDN'T END THERE, LOL OOOOH NO.  One of them proceeds to ask what instruments I play.  Natu and I responded.  Another says "What?  No drums?  You should play drums!  That would be so hot!".  I silently "WAT"'d to myself.  The girl next to her then interjects "No!  He doesn't need to!  Tim, you're so handsome!"  I still managed to keep the "WAT" silent, but my draw dropped and my face very clearly screamed WAT?  At this point, one of the cheerleaders remembered that there is a white girl on the cheerleading squad and decided we needed to meet RIGHT NOW.  She launched a HOLY CRUSADE to find this girl.  She began yelling her name and asking EVERYBODY within 10~20 feet of her if they had seen their hakujin compadre.  Finally they located her.  I still don't really know her name.  In Japanese it was Kyasshi.  This could be Cathy, this could be Cassie, this could be a lot of things.  I shall call her Cassie.  Cassie and I began to talk.  It mostly consisted of "hi, this is awkward, they're very much forcing us to talk and staring at us while we do so!  Oh, you're from America too?  Oh, where?  Oh, I haven't heard of that place...  Well, yeah, here we are, alright! Ha ha ha...".  Amidst this riveting conversation a cheerleader proceeded to yell something along the lines of "Oh my god, English conversation is SO cool!".  I probably would have assumed they were trying to set me and Cassie/Cathy/Kyasshi up if it weren't for what happened next.  It just so happened that I was wearing a beanie (MY GOD I LOVE MY BEANIE, MY EARS ARE SO WARM HNNNNNGGG).  The girl that first talked to me asked if she could see my hair.  No sooner than the "yeah, sure" had left my mouth she was already reaching to remove the hat from my head.  As if it wasn't already enough like a bad TV show, as soon as my beanie left my head and my wavy hair fell to its natural placement, there was AN AUDIBLE CHORUS OF GASPS, OOHS, AND AAHS FROM THE MODERATELY SIZED GROUP OF JAPANESE WOMEN IN FRONT OF ME.  The one that removed the hat from my head then began to touch my hair and comment on how nice and soft it was.  Out of pure panic and desperate desire to survive, I yanked the beanie from the girl's hand and replaced it on my head.  WE'RE NOT DONE YET, KIDS.  All at once one asked me if I was a model in America, another told me I was an Ikemen (which, to give you an idea, was officially entered in google translate as meaning "hawt guy" for a long time), and a third demanded that someone take a picture of us together.  When one cheerleader takes a picture with you, that means another that has her camera wants to too.  And another that forgot her camera then asks if that girl would take a picture of us on her camera.  And then another ones a picture too.  And another wants a picture and to touch my hair.  And it all only ended because the stadium was finally ready and we could go in.


Natu asked me what I thought of the cheerleaders.  I told her they were extremely friendly and a lot more forward than I thought they would be.  She responded in English, simply saying "yeah, they're weird..."

It was a cold day.  There was a typhoon on the horizon.  It was an ice hockey.  Usually, when you walk into a building from standing in the cold rain, you expect to warm up a bit.  NO.  It's a fuckin ice hockey stadium.  WITH ICE.  LOTS OF ICE.  It was cold.  Because it was an indoor game and whatnot, we couldn't bring out instruments with us.  I was actually glad.  Have you ever held a brass instrument for any length of time in a cold environment?  You will very quickly lose all feeling and dexterity your hands once enjoyed.  My hands were thankful.  I was instead given a pair of those inflatable balloon tube things you hit together to make a loud clappy noise.  I had to make a serious effort to contain my excitement.

Now, as I said earlier, all three groups together are the "ouendan-bu", the cheering club.  AND CHEER THEY DID.  It didn't matter what was happening: we were losing, we were winning, we were on offense, we were on defense, absolutely nothing was happening: OUENDAN WAS CHEERING.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON WAS SCREAMING EVERY SECOND OF THAT GAME.  There were also plenty of organized cheer things.  They were a lot of fun once I actually started to get the hang of whatever it was they were yelling and learning what rhythms to "clap" when.  They mostly consisted of a bunch of variations of yelling "Ike" and "Ose" (go and push). 

We ended up losing the game (Jouchi isn't known for its sports...).  Ouendan was sad... for a good 5 minutes or so...  So we packed up and readied to leave.  A cheerleader attempted to get one more picture with me.  We stepped outside.  We stepped outside into the howling wind and the pouring rain.  IT WAS NOTICEABLY WARMER OUTSIDE INT HE HOWLING WIND AND POURING RAIN.  Like, it was so much warmer that many of us started laughing.  It's a strange and disorienting experience to step into what looks like freezing weather and warming up.  Brass band said goodbye to the other two groups and we headed to campus for a practice session.  The Sophia University Festival (SophiaSai) was coming up and we had a performance to do.  We ate lunch together and then headed over to our practice room.  Everything went smoothly.  When it was time to go, someone decided KARAOKE TIME!  So, we went to karaoke.  The place we headed to wasn't very far, but the VERY VERY strong wind and rain made walking more difficult than usual.  We spent about an hour or so karaoke-ing.  Half of the people in Ouendan CAN FUCKIN SING, SHIT.  The other half... not so much.  I was very much in the middle in terms of singing ability, which made me extremely happy.  Regardless, though, it was SO much fun.  I fucking love my club.  And it's a good thing I do, as I had practice nearly every day leading up to the Festival.

The festival!  Sophia-sai was so awesome!  At least what I got to see of it... I got to wander and see it the first day a lot, but the second and third day were dedicated almost exclusively to ouendan.  I got to eat much delicious food.  I even got to go to the SPH48 cafe.  That's the SoPHia play on AKB48 (AKihaBara 48).  It was basically a maid cafe put on by a large number of the Sophia girls that dressed in AKB48-esque outfits and learned a LOT of the dances, which they then performed.  Two of my friends here were part of it, so of course I went, and I don't regret it at all.  For a group of girls just putting on this kind of thing for fun, they were pretty damn incredible.  I don't remember seeing a single error in any of the many dances we saw.  On top of that, they were all ridiculously adorable and their little speeches/talks to the audience were precious and hysterical.  They also fielded some technical difficulties like FUCKING PROS.  The technical difficulties may have been the best part of the show thanks to their wit and charm.

Of course, on the first day of the festival, while walking onto campus, who do I run into?  Why, a pack (that's the best word to describe them) of cheerleaders!  And what do they do?  Why, they scream my name, point, and proceed to run over, grab me, and drag me back to where they were standing.  They fired a hundred questions off at me and began taking pictures with me.  One asked me if I planned on coming all three days of the festival and decided she was going to take a picture with me every day of the festival.  I don't know if she knew I could understand her or not.  I decided not to respond or comment on that (she ended up succeeding, by the way...).  Finally, after being called cool and attractive many more times by the lot of them, I told them I had to go and broke away.  As I continued to walk, who did I run into about 20 feet away?  Why, another group of cheerleaders of course!  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I spent the rest of SophiaSai LIVING IN FEAR.  A CHEERLEADER COULD BE ANYWHERE IN THE CROWD.  THEY COULD BE ALONE OR IN A GROUP.  TWO OR THREE COULD BE WALKING BEHIND YOU AT ANY MOMENT, ROUNDING ANY CORNER, ABOUT TO EXIT ANY DOOR WITHIN YOUR LINE OF VISION AT ANY TIME.  I tried to keep close to walls, under low trees, or behind my tall friend.  THEY'RE LIKE FUCKING NINJAS.  I even ended up going to an event that some of them attended (the Sophia Muscle Man Competition LOL).  The proceeded to call me an Ikemen again and take pictures.  I tried to explain this situation to my friends when I first met up with them at the festival.  I don't think they would have initially believed me (it REALLY DOES sound ridiculous and over-exaggerated), but it just so happened that AS I was explaining it, three of them came walking by and greeted me by yelling a great big "TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMUU!!!!!".  My friends laughed at me.  Suddenly I'm thrust into some sort of awful, cliched harem-manga, and I really don't know how it happened and I want it to stop.  I tried to keep positive and tell myself that Valentine's Day is going to be AWESOME (girls give guys they like/think are attractive/have to work with chocolates!), but then I found out that there's no classes on Valentine's Day, so I don't get to reap the benefits of this.  I hate everything.  I'm pretty much living the dream of every other guy studying abroad here (think about it, I have a group of about 30 attractive Japanese college cheerleaders swooning over me).  My friend told me I'm a "waste of a white man"....

Brass Band's performance was on the third day.  I wasn't initially too nervous because the songs weren't THAT hard and they assured me that the audience is usually about 10~15 people.  We set up about 30 chairs anyway.  Then people started showing up.  And then more people showed up.  And then more people showed up.  And then we had to get more chairs and set them up.  And then more people showed up. and then people were sitting in the aisles and standing in the back and sitting on desks.  MOTHERFUCKER.  I'm used to playing an instrument in front of a crowd MANY times larger than that.  Hell, I'm used to playing for that many judges, but whenever I've done that I'm in a band of over 100 people, so it's pretty decently easy for me to hide (musically and physically... low brass is usually in the back).  This time I was in a band of 9 or 10 people and was positioned VERY MUCH front and center.  I hate everything.  No major fuck ups to be noted though, so I was happy.  I think the time I performed a couple of the songs was the best I had played them, and that's always a good feeling...

Of course, once the performance was over, we cleaned up the room and adorable Natu decided we must go eat, drink, and karaoke.  And so we did.  It's amazing: it's so much easier to speak Japanese when you ingest alcohol.  It just is.  One of the Japanese teachers at USF once told us that, but I didn't really believe her until I got here.  I sat at a dinner table for a very very long time with many Japanese people, only a couple of whom knew ANY english.  I held up conversations, tried a lot of foods I had never had before, and drank a lot of alcohols.  The food.  Oh my god.  I ate what I believe are fried chicken legs (MUCH better than they sound), cheese mochi (also MUCH better than it sounds), and ButterCorn.  ButterCorn is one of the most revolutionary ideas EVER.  They give you this small skillet full of corn.  And it has some butter on it.  You mix the butter around.  And then you eat it.  It's butter and corn.  ButterCorn.  WHAT WILL JAPAN THINK OF NEXT, OH MY GOD, THEY'RE SO AHEAD OF THEIR TIME!  I didn't actually eat any of the butter corn.  The Japanese people were amazed at how willing and eager I was to try new foods.  I think they seriously got a kick out of trying to order the strangest things they could and seeing if I would eat it.  Raamen salad?  Fuck yeah!  Takoyaki?  Fuck yeah!  Fried... something?  FUCK YEAH!  I also kind of played this game on my own with the alcohol.  I honestly didn't know what half the shit on the alcohol part of the menu was, so I basically just kept picking new things to see what I liked and didn't.  One drink was green tea and chuuhai.  It just tasted like green tea.  I tasted NO alcohol.  It was amazing.  If you need a drink to maintain your buzz after you've already gotten sufficiently drunk, I recommend that.  In retrospect, basically ordering and mixing every kind of alcohol on the menu might not have been the BEST of ideas... but it was good and I'm yet to have a hangover in Japan so FUCK YEAH!

Japanese people can't hold their alcohol.  The guy next to me literally drank less than half of what I had.  He FELL ASLEEP SITTING UP IN THE CHAIR NEXT TO ME.  It was hysterical, and the drunker I got the more hysterical it got.  My secret game was to try to reach for food around him without waking him up.  I won.  

In Japanese clubs, the way it works is kouhai (underclassmen) are basically the bitches of the senpai (upperclassmen).  In return for that, the senpai basically pay for everything.  Lunches, dinners, nomihoudai, alcohol, karaoke, EVERYTHING.  I didn't think I would be included in this since 1. I'm a 3rd year 2. I'm not officially in the club yet 3. I'm only hear for a year so I'm technically only a kouhai the whole time.  I was wrong.  They decided that I would be included in the kouhai, so the senpai then proceeded to split the check up and pay for my part of the meal.  If you know me, you know that idea of presents/people paying for me makes my brain explode.  I tried everything my inebriated self could muster to stop them, but there was no arguing.  I never want to be a senpai in a club.  I do not have that kind of money, how do these people survive?!

Of course, when we were done there, adorable Natu decides IT IS TIME FOR KARAOKE!  So off we head to Akihabara for karaoke.  I got videos of this.  They will be up soon, my internet here sucks.  There is dancing, joking, and SO MUCH shenanigans involved it's ridiculous.  These kid know how to karaoke right.

I hate sorting my trash here.

The curfew in my dorm is basically a joke.  I've already broke it so many times.  Hell, there have been many nights where I decided I'm hungry at midnight, so I run over to the konbini, grab food, and come back.   The door being "locked at midnight" consists of our dorm head guy closing one of those, like, gates you put up to keep a baby or a dog out of an area of your house or block off a staircase.  If you get back late (or want to leave late), you simply move the thing out of the way, step past it, and put it back.  It is that simple.  I'm very glad this is the case.  In fact, I'm hungry.  I'm going to go get food now.

Or maybe when I finish this because I think that's soon.

Curry.  I eat SO MUCH CURRY.  I fucking love curry SO FUCKING MUCH FUCK.  There have been MANY days where curry is EVERY meal I eat.  It's already to the point that my club-mates consider calling me Karee or Kari because of my deep love for curry.  The other possible nickname is Timune (like ramune).  I really like that one.  I hope it sticks.  It's so ridiculous and random and WAT.

I really like my Japanese phone.

MY DS CHARGER IS DEAD I DON'T KNOW WHY AAAAAHHH!!  I had to borrow my friend's!  I need to buy a new one.  I'm SURE they have them in Akihabara.  I hope they're not expensive.  I'M SO SAD RIGHT NOW.

I forgot to mention:  One of the Super-Senpai in oendan brass band is an otaku.  I call him a super senpai because he's a 5th year.  He changed his major or something, so he's in his fifth year.  He was in the brass band for his four years, but quit this year to concentrate on his last year.  So, he doesn't play with us, but he goes to all the events and hangs out with everyone because, well, this is his friend circle.  But back to my point.  I played piano one day in front of my clubmates and played a touhou song.  One of them recognized that it was from touhou and told me that I would get along really well with this super senpai guy.  He sat across from me during that dinner I mentioned way up there.  We spent a lot of time talking about touhou.  I showed him my phone charms.  They made him happy.  He reached into his bag and pulled out a touhou pin.  I immediatly identified that it was satori and told him I liked her.  He freaked the fuck out that I knew who she was.  Best friends forever.  Fo sho.

Suddenly, school was like "LOL HI IMA B A BITCH, BRB".  Classes decided to assign ONE MILLION readings and each of those readings consists of ONE MILLION pages.  Japanese decided a daily vocabulary quiz can have 30 or 40 words to learn for it.  That's totally cool.  Oh yeah, and the daily kanji quiz can have 20~40 kanji, too.  And those are just the ones you actually have to know how to write, there are the ones you have just be able to read, too!  And here's a worksheet to do, and a reading to do, and, oh yeah, why don't we just give you the study guide for the IMPENDING MIDTERM too!  IMPENDING MIDTERM.  Brb, fetal position.

I can still bullshit a presentation though, whether there's a wikipedia page on the topic or not!


I went and got food.

I still love being able to go for a walk at 11:30 at night by myself.  I love that I'm not the only one doing that when I do.

I'm still listening to Florence and the Machine.  She's forever going to remind me of three things I love:  A good friend of mine, Kairos, and My trip in Japan. 

I probably should have told you all (all 5 of you) to look at what time it was when you started reading this.  I'm curious how long it took you to trudge through all that.

I remain the king of Tl;DR

I remain really happy to be in Japan :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

I am a silly person.

There is a Chapter 5 test in Japanese in about 12 hours.  If studying involves more than showing up for class and opening the book a couple times tonight, I have not studied.  There are two readings I'm supposed to have done for Japanese Foreign Policy tomorrow.  I downloaded one of the PDFs, but I didn't get any farther than the first page.  I need to do the two readings for my last International Organizations and Law class and the two for tomorrow.  I don't even know where I access these readings and could possibly not own the books yet.

But I don't care.

I don't care because I'm happy.

10 years.  10 years of planning.  10 years of waiting.  10 years of studying, of preparing, of saving, of applying, of convincing, of worrying, of looking forward to, of dreaming, of anticipating.  10 years have lead to this.  I've finally come to Japan.  I did everything I could to keep myself from having high expectations.  I worried for so long that I'd play this stupid country up too high in my head and be miserably disappointed when I finally arrived.

I don't think any expectation I could have let myself fancy would have been able to touch the magic I am sitting in.

I think I've brought up the beauty and magic of the street and area I live in before, but this is not a point I can express enough.  So long as you avoid the buzzing, smoke-filled, mechanized palace of a pachinko parlor near the train station, this entire area has the most magical aura.  Lights are strung everywhere: from lamp to lamp, around and in trees, dancing from building to building creating this canopy of wonder and warmth.  They twinkle at night, welcoming you home.  Welcoming you home, and, yet, beckoning you to this exotic, far-away land where everything is so different and foreign and yet so comfortable and familiar that you've felt you've lived here forever and want to continue to.  If I didn't live here, I wouldn't believe it to exist.  This street is simply a picture book, a set created to make foreigners gasp and travel here on vacation.  There is no way that this could be an everyday thing.  There is no way this could be real.

But it is.

But it is.

Young men and women stand outside restaurants that seem to have been owned by a family for a few generations, calling in passers-by for a warm meal.  Cooks continue to practice their craft they have been perfecting their entire life.  They serve their customers from behind the counter that only seats 5 at a time.  Children aged 8 or 7 or 6 wander home from after-school studying at 8 or 9 o'clock by themselves, like they do every night.  Like they do safely every night.  Young girls pull out money from their purses and count it while walking around alone at 11PM.  An old couple open their kitchen up to strangers for two hours every afternoon to serve udon to those that want a good meal.

I'm waiting for the credits to roll on this 1950's sitcom.

The credits aren't rolling.

So here I am.  Sitting in my room in Japan.  Florence + The Machines sings her beautiful heart out as I write this entry and dance like an idiot.  I look back in my head at the time I've spent here.  I think of the times I've made mistakes.  I think of the times I've gotten lost (intentionally or not).  I think of the times I've embarrassed myself.  I think of the times I've been confused.

And I giggle.

And I look forward to 9 more months here.

Ok... Now that you've gotten through all that semantic bullshit, I'm sure all of your are thinking "ok, cut the crap, I wanna know what you've actually been DOING, stupid!"  Fine, fine, fine...

Akihabara really does live up to what you hear of it.  Girls with cat ears and maid costumes stand handing out fliers and coaxing people to their establishment, listing the reasons it's so much better than the others.  I finally went to one of these extraordinary dens of cuteness and absolute glee.  AKB48 played over the speakers as myriad Japanese girls performed different cheers and, I suppose you could call them, rituals for their patrons.  Each and every girl had her own special charm.  They decorated their own outfits with the things they liked to give themselves that unique flare.  You aren't allowed to eat the food they serve you until they've personally decorated it and you've performed a small dance-thing (OISHII, OISHII, MOE MOE KYUU~).  If a man orders a girly drink, he is then shamed by the girl asking everyone to help her perform a special cheer for him.  This cheer consists of everyone referring to him by a girly name, clapping, and praising him for a good 2~3 minutes.  If it wasn't so expensive, I would definitely love to become a regular patron of one of these places.

I WON MY FIRST EVER MATCH OF BLAZBLUE!  Finally I had returned to the arcade I like here in Akiba.  I noticed a Jin playing.  He also didn't look bad, so I was kinda scared.  I destroyed him.  I won both rounds, and by a pretty good margin.  I beat my first Japanese player.  This probably seems so stupid and trivial to nearly everyone reading this, but to me this is practically the equivalent of a lifelong dream.  I thought that maybe, MAYBE after practicing a good bit and possibly finding someone to really teach me the game that I could beat a Japanese player by the end of my time here.  Winning my first match, though.  I would question it ever happening if it weren't for the two friends that came with me.

To be honest, I've always been kinda iffy about the Castro.  It's nice, but unless you're 21+ and just want to drink and hookup, I don't feel like there's that much to do.  People stop and chat to those they know, and unless you're up on the night scene, you don't tend to know that many people.  Once in a while, there is a street festival or something, but even that is just people from all around the city converging on that spot.

It doesn't hold a candle to Nichoume.

Nichoume is like the Castro, but with a more cozy, friendly, small-town feel.  The clubs are smaller and more intimate, the alcohol is cheaper, and the people...

The people!

Everyone, EVERYONE is friendly and simply willing to chat.  Walk by a local bar and say hello to the people sitting in front of it.  Stop and have a half hour conversation with them.  Don't be surprised if someone walks away with their contact information just so they can chat some other time.  A famous drag queen fresh from her recent television appearance will stop to compliment your hair and talk to you about how she gets ready and how she got where she is now.  The people having a picnic in front of a restaurant in the middle of an alley will be glad to say hello and joke with you and any other passersby.  Grab a drink and go for a walk.  It's not a very big area, BUT IT'S ALIVE.  People are there, people are moving, people are talking, people are laughing, people are LIVING.  Whether you've been going there for years or hours, it is a community and you are part of it.  That feeling of magic and wonder I described earlier, it was overflowing and effervescent.  It was as alive as the neighborhood and the people within it.

Don't get me started on the food.  I could probably live on any one of these dishes, but I get the option of any of them.  Curry, katsu, udon, donburi, soba, raamen: and I'm only describing the selection at my school's cafeteria.  I can get a FEAST from my local noodle shop for 400 yen.  A bowl of KareeDon with pickled vegetables and tempura and miso soup.  I had to struggle to finish all of it, but never did I actually want to stop eating any of it.  It was less than 5 dollars. 

An elderly woman with a pink streak in her hair sits on your right on the train.  The girl to the left of you is decked out in a lolita outfit more complicated than even the fanciest doll you've ever seen.  You can't see out the window through the see of suit-clad business men, v-neck and vest wearing boys, and girls whose outfits look like they took hours to plan but were really just a combination of things they had lying around.  Every woman is wearing heels.  So are a few of the men.  Every pair of hands has a cell phone, and every pair of hands is manipulating it at a frantic pace.  Strangers heads' drift onto the shoulder of the person next to them as they doze off.  when the train hits a curve, goths, punks, salarymen, lolitas, jocks, otaku, children, and the elderly all sway in unison.  All sway as one.

I reiterate again that I have many readings I have fallen behind on.  It's a quarter to midnight.

Something tells me I won't be doing these readings.

I don't think I'll be paying too much attention to many of the things my classes will be trying to teach me.

I have far too much learning to do to pay heed to them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Fell pretty fucking far behind on this thing...
I should be studying for the placement test tomorrow morning, but it's been several days and this is my journal basically.  I can type a lot more quickly than I can write, so I figure I'll actually get it done sooner this way than writing everything down.

Explored the area around my school.  Pretty awesome.  Nice little park nearby.  Found a little market that sold a lot of american brands and things (including the kind of pasta my family gets!), beer, wine, and cheese.  It was pretty swell.  Met some other gaijins.  Went home.


First nomihoudai! W00T!  For those of you that don't know, nomihoudai is where you pay so much to get all-you-can-drink for a certain period of time.  The place we went to also had a karaoke machine.  Our group consisted of 15 foreigners and 4 Japanese people.  19 people is quite a few for this kind of event (at least I think so, and at least for the size of the room we had that night!).  Shit was awesome.  A few rounds of beer later, pretty much everyone was getting pretty into the karaoke.  I don't think I made too much of an ass of myself, and this makes me very very happy.  Already looking forward to the next venture of this.

I keep forgetting I'm legal drinking age.  Next time I go to a restaurant I think I'm just gonna order a beer for the hell of it.  Just because I can.

Oh, that was two days ago, for the record.

Yesterday was kind of a throw away day.  I spent pretty much the entire time in my room convincing myself I was gonna study for the Japanese placement test.  Suffice it to say, I didn't get too much studying done.  I didn't realize it was for "respect for the elderly day" (a national holiday) so my dorm wasn't serving dinner.  This was actually kind of a blessing because it got me to go explore the area around my dorm more than I already had.  I just went a different direction than I had walked before and looked around.  Cool stuff litters this area, I love it.  It's especially magical and mysterious looking at night, making my dinner-time stroll all that much more enjoyable.  Found a haircut place.  I think I'll probably wander around there again sometime soon and check out the prices for future reference.  I'm terrified of my lack of haircut-related vocabulary.  Eventually I found a Famima.  They're exactly like they are in america, just with more actually Japanese brands and stuff.  I grabbed some soba noodles and a milk tea and was on my way.  I wandered a little more (took some pictures too!) before heading back home.  I found a 7-11 (which was oddly close to the fami-ma), which should be handy in the future, I believe.  For a cheap container of soba noodles I got at a famima, that shit was delicious.  And there was a lot!  I was full (but I still wanted more) when I finished.

Hold on everyone, I'm still wearing my pants and I don't know why...

Having had fun last night, I thought I'd take another stroll this morning to pass the time before my orientation.  Took yet another path and explored more of Musashi Koganei.  One of the first stores I came across was a Gaming store with a Blazblue poster in the window.  Actually, the entirety of all the windows was completely covered in various posters and things.  I couldn't see inside.  It might've been closed for all I know.  I decided I'd go in later because I was just starting my adventure and I actually wanted to see more before inspecting the finer details of the first areas.  I don't regret it.  This place is so fucking awesome, you guys.  Fancy-pants Japanese shops surrounded by small modern apartments, more traditional japanese houses with rusted sheds in the yards, and even a typical graveyard packed into a small space near several houses.

When it was time to go, I finally headed over to school.  Orientation consisted of "Hi, we're gonna talk to you for an hour or two, HERE'S A MILLION PAPERS!"  My friend and I have decided we're going to take a regular Japanese course this semester, and then we can take the intensive Japanese course next semester (which is an EIGHT UNIT CLASS).  But this all depends on how well tomorrow goes.  We also made a pact that if one of us places better than the other, we're going to talk to a counselor and tell them "Oh, I think this is a mistake, I'd like to take a lower course" and get into the same class as the other person.  We realized today that one of us is better at reading and writing and one of us is better at speaking and listening.  If you put us together, WE'RE A FULLY FUNCTIONING NIHONJIN.  This may be a SLIGHT (read: POWERFUL) overestimation of our talents, but still.  After the tour, we got into, like, group things with some Japanese students of Sophia.  They took us on a short tour of the campus and had us introduce ourselves to one another.  Shit was fun, met some people from ALL over the place in that group.  England, French Switzerland, Italy, Ukraine, England, Korea, America, and Japan all represented in one small group.  We exchanged names for facebook and the people with cell phones exchanged information.  A group like that will be handy to have later on.  It's just another opportunity to make friends too~ (D'AWWWWW)

So I basically cut both my ankles right on the achilles tendon RIGHT before my trip.  All this walking has prevented either cut from closing.  In fact, today I got blood all over my socks.  They hurt like crazy and it's pretty awful... BUT MY BAND-AIDS STAYED ON TODAY! :D

After all our tour stuff was over, my friends and I met up and headed over to a nearby raamen place.  This place is famous for its tomato raamen (a dish of raamen with a tomato base broth and tomato chunks in it).  THAT SHIT WAS SOOOO GOOD OH MY GOD.  If you are ever in the Tokyo area, specifically Yotsuya, FIND THIS TOMATO RAAMEN PLACE.  It was delicious, I cannot stress that enough.

I'm still not used to humidity.  It's just that sticky feeling at the end of the day that coats your whole body.  I don't hate it, it's just something I'm really not used to.  Apparently there are only a couple more weeks of it anyway, so I guess there's no real need to get used to it anyway...

I still haven't bought a clock.  I also need to get a shit ton of papers and cards ASAP.  Classes to sign up for, a test to take...  Wait, when did I get so busy?  I should also buy a handkerchief or something.  The amount I sweat just walking or STANDING is ridiculous.  I don't mind it personally, but it's pretty disgusting for other people to see/have to deal with on a crowded train.

I'll upload pictures in another post or something, I should really get to work now...

PEACE  (<lol)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Because some of you bitched...

Here's a photographical update of sorts!  I took some pictures of my room just to give you an idea of what it looks like! :D

Here's my bed!  As you can see, it's very much Western style.  Mattress is hard as FUCK, but it's pretty comfy.  I LOVE MY PILLOW.  It's one of those ones that's full of stuff, so it conforms to your head and neck.  I'm yet to have neck pain!
This is my desk.  It's very, very messy.  That's how you know it's mine!  Next to it's the shelfy thingy where I keep a lot of clothes and shit.  ISN'T IT EXCITING?!
Next up is my dresser thingy.  I ACTUALLY HUNG UP ALL MY CLOTHES!  MY MOMMY WOULD BE SO PROUD! Let's see how long that lasts...  Sorry it's so blurry...

Finally, these are the pants I am not wearing!
Today my friends and I plan to explore our campus and the area around it.  I'll take plenty of pictures while I'm out.  Camera battery's charging right now! I AM SO EXCITE.


I'll preface this story with this:  An elderly Japanese woman told me I need to eat more and proceeded to scoop several more spoonfuls of rice into my bowl.  WHAT.

For informational purposes I think I should point out I live in Koganei Men's Dormitory (lol I'm a MAN!).  Maybe that'll help some confused kid when he tries to google that place he's about to live in.  He'll find this blog and have plenty of information on it and be ever so happy.  I WISH THAT WOULD'VE HAPPENED FOR ME!

Like I said in a previous post, this place is run by a man and his wife.  The man seems to be head-honcho guy and handyman.  The wife cooks the meals.  AND BOY CAN SHE, OH MY GOD.  I'd like to point out how glad I am to not be vegetarian.  Dinner was a slab of fish.  I don't know what fish.  It came with things next to it.  I don't know what these things were.  They could have been vegetables.  They could have also been meat things.  Regardless, they were all good.  The meal also came with salad.  The salad also had some sort of meat in it.  I don't know what.  It had lettuce and all, but there were also bits of other things (i assume to be vegetables).  I don't know what they were, but they were also good.  JAPANESE SALAD DRESSING DELICIOUS HNNNNNGGGGHH!!!!  Then there was miso soup.  OMG MY FIRST HOMEMADE MISO SOUP.  SHIT WAS OFF DA CHAIN.  It was ALSO full of stuff, the majority of which I did not recognize.  Also FUCKING DELICIOUS.  At first I thought it had fish in it too (which I thought was funny), but it turns out it was tofu.  CAN I GET AN OMNOMNOM UP IN HERE?  Of course the meal also came with rice (which I mentioned earlier) and tea.  The tea... I couldn't tell you how good it was, honestly.  It was a chilled tea.  I was so thirsty that I downed the entire first cup in one gulp with the full intent of getting another.  However, some guy sat in the seat DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE TEA DISPENSER THINGY, and I was too shy and embarrassed to reach over him to get more.  I ATE SO MUCH FOOD.

I LOVE JAPANESE TELEVISION.  We watched a show where they interviewed (what I assume to be) celebrities in a van.  However the interview was mostly a ruse and a distraction because they were just counting down the time until they hit a giant bump in the road and filmed the celebrities' reaction to being flung up off their seat.  This one cute woman made them stop the van and go over it again.  The noises she made were priceless. 

I went to the vending machine in our dorm.  It's very fancy.  There's covers for things and directions and diagrams everywhere.  I bought my first Calpis Water in Japan~  I also got Japanese change.  JAPANESE CHANGE!  100 yen coins make it so seemingly easy to spend a dollar that it kinda scares me...  The five hundred yen coins are also scary, but less so because they're bigger and GOLD so that makes them special in my mind and not want to spend them.  The fifty yen coins are cute, BUT THE 10 YEN COIN BUGS ME SO MUCH.  It's bigger than the 50 yen coin.  It's like the nickel of Japanese change: all big and awkward and useless.  I think this is also a ploy to get me to spend it as now I want to just so I can get rid of it.


Showers!  I took a shower in our dorm's showers today.  SHIT DOES NOT GET HOT, THAT IS FOR SURE.  Mind you, it's not cold, but it's definitely not the "Aaaaahhh~" hot that I'm used to at home.  This doesn't bother me much right now, but I have a feeling it will in winter.  The shower had a mirror in it.  I kinda thought this was awkward.  Mind you, it went down to just above your waist (at least for my height), but it was very front and center.  For the first time ever, I knew what I looked like while taking a shower.  IT DIDN'T EVEN FOG UP MUCH, SHIT WAS MAGIC.  

Facebook is apparently doing maintenance for the next FEW HOURS so I can't access my account.  Fiddlesticks.

I can't wait to hear cicadas and get sick of hearing cicadas and complain about hearing cicadas!

That's all for now, children.  More in the future when stuff happens!  I can't wait for stuff!

*Still not wearing pants~