Friday, April 30, 2004

goddam blogger ate my post.

Anyway, I'm going to be going to Kyushu with Shane, Lara and of course Jennifer. It would have been nice to have used the sleeping bags and pads that we ordered specifically for this purpose, but alas the hosers that I ordered them from didn't ship them out until almost a week later and so consequently they won't get here until tomorrow, sometime after we leave. Dammit. Not only that but I paid too much for shipping because someone screwed up somewhere and sent it UPS which miraculously costs 3 times as much and arrives later to Japan. All that for the convenice of a little tracking number that tells me that the damn package is sitting at the airport in Chiba where it's been languishing for the past day.

At any rate I'll have great stories to tell, but not until next week sometime when we get back. It'll be my first real vacation in Japan and I'm already dreading going back to work.

Jennifer, Shane, Lara and I are winging it down to Kyushu this next week. We'll be gone for about 9 days total and since it's T minus 8 hours and counting, i suppose I should start packing my stuff. I don't really want to rush into something like packing for a vacation though. We were really hoping to get the sleeping pads and bags that we ordered specifically for this trip to arrive today, but guess what, they didn't. Not only that but I was kind of duped by the online ordering system that I went through and they got shipped out UPS. I don't exactly know why the USPS can get my parents shipments here for like $35 and these yahoos wanted to charge me $125 for the shipping. Not only that, I think that USPS is actually faster to Japan. At any rate, I called these guys to complain because they hadn't authorized the upcharged shipping with me and they knocked the shipping cost down by half, but all the same, it's a damn shame that we won't get to use our fabulous new stuff that we had intended for this trip. INstead we have some styrofoam padding that should (not) do the trick.

Anyway, don't expect an update until I'm good and ready. Also, until I'm home next week.

Hmm, I'm already dreading going back to work. How about that.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I'm willing to put money down that nobody in the entire world has eaten the exact combination that I had last night. It was Fastco brand Mac and Cheese along with some sushi ginger, shredded Korean seaweed sheets, avocado, mayonaise and of course the king of condiments, Sriracha sauce. Not only that, but I ate it with chopsticks. How's that for freaky. It occurred to me that I eat some weird combinations of shit and then I realized, "Who the hell else would think to put this together?" And I smiled at my own inventiveness and washed it all down with a gulp of sake.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I had a dream the other night that I had a mullet. Not just any mullet, but a fatty 20/80. Somehow I had managed not to notice that the mullet was so huge until I brushed my hair a certain way. All of a sudden it was as if I had returned to the 80s with a bang. At first I was horrified in my dream. How could I let something like this happen to me? Then, slowly as i looked at myself in the mirror and stroked the "party in the rear" portion of my hair, i began to like what I saw. I would really enjoy the convenience and style of the mullet. Not just for truckers anymore.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Sunday was another BBQ, this time with the Japanese lesson club that Jennifer has been going to, Club Konnichiwa. There are some brasilians who also go to the CK as we call it and they were kind of in charge of the food. Thank god.

On the course of the day approximately 10 kilograms of meat were cooked to perfection and then shoved into our stomachs. I have to say that i've rarely had a better steak and certainly not in Japan. Brasilians know how to eat. Steak beats out okonomiyaki (cabbage omlette) any day.

The best part of the day was when one of the little kids fell into the water and proceeded to put up a fuss until he pulled off his pants and then his underwear and run around. This made another kid jealous and though his pants were just fine, he yanked them off and we had two half nude kids running around all day. What a life. I hope they didn't get sunburned.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Well, i had an adventuresome birthday weekend. Saturday started out with my quest to go skiing on my birthday. By god I actually did it. So i bought myself some climbing skins as a little self birthday present, let me tell you, they rule. It's a little like 4wd for your skis. Anyway, i got them and stuck them to the bottom of my skis in preparation for my adventure. Since I don't have a car, i managed to get to the resort via train. I got up at 6 to get to the station by 6:30 which almost worked, honestly it almost did. I even saw the train pull out of the station ahead of me. I then proceeded to wait an hour for the next train and amuse the other passengers as the stared at my backpack full of skis and boots and poles. If you ever want to see people trying not to look at you, i recommend travelling in japan with weird baggage and strange clothing.

I ended up learning something about geography at the end of my train ride to Myoko ski town. One is that trains tend to run along rivers and ski resorts tend to be on mountains. Rarely the twain shall meet. I did a bit of hiking just to get up the hill to the ski resort. It was alright, but i'd have rather been on the hill. Eventually i reached some patches of snow and donned my boots and skis and poles and it was just swell, I made it about 3/4 up the mountain before i had to turn around for time constraints. At the top i stripped off the skins and made my way down the slush, realizing that I forgot how to ski.

At any rate i did it and got back to nagano about 1:30 pm and then had about 15 minutes respite at home before heading out to a hanami barbeque in the nearby city of Suzaka. As it turns out I had the first fresh grilled burger yet in japan. It was splendid. I also ate several sausages, some chicken, grilled fish, some shrimp, some korean barbeque meat and some other stuff that I can't really remember. I also had some beer. Maybe some other stuff too. Then we ended up in a karaoke bar with a bunch of sweaty foreigners in one room with a gimongous TV. Just as I had hoped my birthday would be.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Cycling season is here and i'm about 70% done with my first project of the season: hair removal. Cyclists are known for their strong and hair free legs and as I want to pretend that I am a legitimate cyclist here even though there's little opportunity for me to do any competetion in the whole goddam country of Japan. I decided this year that I would dispense with the frequency and inconvenience of shaving, also the waste of razor blades was in the forefront of my mind, and therefore would pluck my hairy legs. What a great Idea!! i was inspired by the seductive advertising of a certain dipiliatory product here, the National brand plucking utensil which has since been pulled from the shelves.
I bought one of these bad boys in the peach color version and proceeded to molest my legs for what seems to have been an eternity, but in reality, has been more like 3 hours. The advertisement indicated pain free usage and total convenience with the 3 possible attachments to provide plucking power in the hariest of situations. I'm here to tell you that there is no way to pull hair out by its roots that is not painful.
Over the course of the past week and a half I have whittled the hair on my legs down to a small scattering of hairs in my knee-pit, my upper thighs and ankles and the bikini area. Progress continues and I'm unfortunately unable to wear shorts in public due to the skin irritation and spotty hair patches on my leg. But, I will perservere. It has become my masochistic mission to epilate at all costs.
I just figured out the details on the, "Oooowa waahhk waahhk waahhk" song that i hated so much at the bike shop two summers ago. It's called Down with the Sickness and the band's name is Disturbed. Honestly, that's really what I want in music, angry and ignorant. Without those two all important elements, i don't think that a song is really worth listening to.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

One of my students gave me crap last night in class. She was ribbing me about my lack of interest in bars and clubs, my lack of japanese friends etc. It was great. It's so rare here that people give you grief about stuff it's just so pleasant to be harassed by people. The highschool girls give you shit but it's usually stuff like, "Aaron, give me money...HAHAHAHAHAH!" as they turn back to the group of friends and giggle maniacally.

This week has sucked. I've had like three 12 hour days and that usually means that i'm doing highschool classes. I fucking hate higschool classes. Fortunately only one day of these classes remains and I get to go home early today. Thank god.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Saturday evening was Jennifer and my first hana-mi party. Hana-mi is the cherry blossom viewing that the Japanese love so much. I really couldn't understand why before but now I have a pretty good idea.

It's because they get ripped.

The basic format is where people set up tents or pavillions in the various parks, in all of which they have planted cherry trees so that you can go and hang out and look at the cherry blossoms and be at peace with nature while hanging out inside a pavillion with a bunch of noisy people and drinking too much. Jennifer and I went with Yasko, the japanese woman from my work who's lived in LA for about 8 years. She's a really strange mix of super girly Japanese highschool girl and California.
Anyway, there were probably 8 associated japanese friends and acquaintances there. Japanese girls are the girliest in the world. That's a fact. Whenever anything would happen, it would be accompanied with a cacaphony of girly noises and laughter. It was pretty annoying but then I hit the beer in a meaningful way and it settled down a bit. Things were kind of dull until they broke out the karaoke machine and then with a stunningly awesome rendition of, "Light My Fire" I wowed the crowd with my vocals while a super-drunk japanese guy made fun of my english by going, "Wooo woooo, yeeeahh wwoooo." as i sang.
Then i got into a conversation with a guy who was apparently a quasi famous japanese comedian who insisted that the, "Japanese spirit is the samurai spirit." He also builds and flies kites in his spare time. Talk about cultural exchange.

The rest of the night muddled along until they kicked us out and I wobbled my bicycle home. I only fell off 2 times. The main result of the night is that the sight of cherry blossoms gives me a little bit of nausea due to it's association with alchohol.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Nothing much to report recently. However, I do wish to say that I miss my now former co-worker Paul. He got canned the end of March and now I'm working with a Canadian guy Stephen who tends to sing while smarmily prepping for the next class. He's maybe what the british, such as Paul might call, "a wanker."

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Jennifer, Shane, Lara, Dawn and a host of our other friends went town to the town of Chino, where they invented the slacks, to see the Ombashira festival. This was kind of a big deal. There are several shrines in the area, all of whose dieties require logs to be hauled from the top of a nearby mountain by hand every 6 years. The logs are pretty big, maybe 20 meters long and they're hauled by thousands of people yanking on these gigantic ropes and pulling the logs over hill and dale to get to the shrines. The highlight of the festival is when the logs and all of their riders, yes, the logs are all ridden from their starting point to the shrines, crest the top of a hill and then proceed to ride down the mound of dirt with much fanfare and clicking of cameras. There are 4 such events held over the course of a month or so, and the one we saw was the first of the 4. Unfortunately for us, it was not the one we were hoping for. We were hoping to see some blood and guts. We witnessed them riding the logs down the shallowest of the inclines. The stories we had heard however, were all about the steepest log ride, the one where people get maimed and killed. In the photo links (not my photos, those aren't developed yet) the ones from 4/3 and 4/4 are the ones most representative of what we actually saw. However, the event we really wanted to witness was the one in the second set the 4/10 and 4/11 set. If it weren't such a drag and expense to get down to the town, I might be more inclined to do so and witness the later festivals.

While the smell of American festivals is unmistakably that of frying food, beer and maybe marijuana, the smell that universally pervades Japanese festivals is that of frying squid. To get a representation of it, I suggest that you chuck any mollusk in the fire and watch it sizzle, the smell will be almost the same. It's got a wang to it.

THe evening however, was capped off in fine style with NEW YORK STYLE PIZZA!!! One of the local gaijin owns a restaurant that serves more or less authentic American and always delicious foods. For 1500 yen we were treated to an all you can eat pizza bash and a free drink. It was super. I had 7 pieces of some of the more delicious pizza that I've ever eaten, which may be be somewhat related to the fact that I haven't really been able to eat much pizza recently. Anyway, I've rarely been so content with a meal, and so bummed to have to stop eating. Therein lies the problem with buffets, the lack of leftovers.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I have had some interesting experiences this week, and in fact this weekend i'm poised to see some japanese guys ride a tree down a mountain to test their strength and manliness, but i've never been bitten by an orangutan.

That's right folks, one of my friends here was hiking in indonesia for the march holiday and on her guided hike stumbled across several wonderful and friendly orangutans and their babies. She also stumbled right into a really pissed off misanthropic one who grabbed her leg, dragged her through the bush and laid a huge chomp on her upper thigh/ass area. The bruise is terrific. It's big, with four matching tooth marks on top and bottom. Apparently the guide saw the beast first and knew her (the orangutan's) reputation as a total asshole. He flipped and ran screaming off into the jungle leaving my friend right in the path of "Meena". Meena apparently hates tourists and so she reached out and grabbed my friend by her ankle, and chomped away.

Just for the sake of conversation? What would you do if an orangutan bit you?

Also, why don't I have any great stories like this to tell. Imagine sitting on Uncle Aaron's knee and listening to the story about the now extinct orangutan who "BIT ME ON THE ASS WITH HER GIGANTIC PEG-LIKE TEETH." I would truly be the most popular guy on the crazy uncle circuit.