aide: (大野 → Unimpressed)
Yesterday we had another Hanami in Chidori ka Fuchi, which is the park surrounding Budoukan. I've been to Budoukan now! haha and you know the first thing that came to mind: Arashi was here! -_- I'm so lame. Good times, lots of gorgeous blossoms. I brought my camera but didn't take that many pictures. Actually, that park is right across the street from Yasukuni Shrine. I knew about the shrine, but not exactly where it is. I kind of want to go check it out, but it kind of gives me the creeps, like Catholic churches. Or just churches in general. I love the architecture and think they are really beautiful but I'm afraid if I step inside the minister/priest will walk up to me and look me straight in the say and say, "You don't belong here." Or I'll burst into flames or something. I don't know. But Yasukuni kind of makes me feel that way too, a little bit.

I feel groggy from drinking all day. At one point (after finishing a whole bottle of wine pretty much to myself) I thought I'd gone over the edge but I was okay. Obviously I was drunk enough to undertake making a spoof of the ANA Okinawa ad. Oh yes. I will post when it's done.

My Roswell boxed set was delivered today. That's one thing that will get me out of bed. I'm surprised how quickly it came. Now I have the whole first season. I don't know why they can't make 1 season 1 box like they do in Canada. Obviously it's to get more money from people, even though they cost about the same in the end. Oh well.

I have 4 rented DVDs I haven't watched yet. They are due back on Wednesday. I really should clean up (I still haven't fully unpacked or put stuff away) and put my laundry away and do the dishes that have been in the sink since Thursday. I think my cleanliness reflects my emotionl health, so obviously I'm not doing too well these days.

I still don't have Shukudai-kun and Door to Door yet from last week. I'm so behind. I will get stuff downloading and then tidy up. Then sit my fat ass down in front of the TV all day.
aide: (斗真 → Pose :D)
Happy new year~ I feel like I haven't slept in days. And... well, I kind of haven't. I have been home for a total of about 4 hours in the last 3 days. It's been a ride. I'm exhausted from sleeping on people's floors. I'm dizzy and sick from lack of sleep so I'm going to doze while I was a load of laundry. I haven't checked Livejournal in 2 days. I'm afraid of how many posts I have to wade through. But I have to do it tonight because I'm going to HIroshima tomorrow for 3 days. When did I decide to go? About three days ago. Let's start the new year by spending a ton! I got home and I thought I would have more nengajo but I only had 4. Two from students, one from Sho-kun/Japan Post (I'll photograph it later) and one spam.

I need to pass out for a while. But I feel great. The year of the cow is my year! It better be good.

More coherent update later.

It's later. I didn't really sleep but I don't feel like barfing from being tired now. For a while. It's 9 and I haven't even started packing yet but I've been angry at LJ because for the last hour it hasn't been loading. I want to write some kind of though provoking post but I think I'm not in the mood now. No, I'm a liar. I will. But first, a year-end recap:

Uda-Sado-Heather Reunion Dinner; lots of pictures in herre )

New Year's Eve )

New Year's Day )

Now for The Things I Did in 2008.
    Didn't get laid off
    Saved $2000
    Spent... way more than $2000
    Went skiing for the first time in Nagano
    Tried to see Ohno's Freestyle exhibition but failed (twice)
    Saw old friends from Singapore in Japan
    Met awesome new friends from LJ in Japan
    Went to Nagoya to visit Yvonne
    Big penis festival in Kawasaki
    Saw Arashi in Nagoya
    Saw my first movie alone (HanadanF)
    Went to Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe and stayed with Yuka
    Took the Kanji kentei and passed level 9
    Had Jenna come visit and stay with me
    Went to Sawara for the Autumn Festival
    Went to Karuizawa with staff from school (for free!)
    Started writing fic 
That's just what I can remember/wrote on my calendar. That's a pretty substatial list, I have to say. I'm going to do this fic meme that's floating around about what I wrote this year but I don't have the time right now. It's 9:40 and I still haven't packed! I'm out of here at 7:30 tomorrow morning. There goes any writing I had planned to do today. I've been replaying the scene I'm working on in my head constantly trying to figure out how to get to the next part. It's hard. :(
aide: (翔 → Finger!dance)
Merry merry and all that shit to everyone.  It'll be Christmas when most of my flist reads this, but it ended over an hour ago for me.  It was maybe one of the best Christmases I've had.  It beats last year because I can't even remember what I did.  Got lots of fun presents: 2 new DS games (Rhythm Tengoku Gold and Oryouri Navi), a few mugs, lots of fattening choco, a book, to name a few.  I also ate my face off.  I wasn't aware we were cooking chicken so I got a bit testy -- also fucking pissed off from getting my ass owned in Final Fantasy; again -- but it turned out good.  Watched lots of Christmas movies.  Andrew liked the shirt so I'm really relieved. :)  I'll post a picture when I get it from Justin.  Mom is calling me tomorrow... sometime.  I should go to bed so I don't sleep in too late and turn my ringer on.  I don't know what time they are going to call me.  Taka also called to wish me a merry x'mas and ask if I'm coming to his drinking party on Saturday.  I told him I would since I am free anyway and I feel bad that I've bailed or been busy every time he's invited me out.  His friends from the States are in town, and I think a lot of work friends will be there?  Maybe I can get some action.  Since he's not single yet.

I think Rhythm Tengoku Gold is my new favourite game.  :D  

Need to remember to make holiday-type post/email tomorrow.
aide: (Sorry. Emo time.)
My parcels are all ready to go out tomorrow. God, I wonder how much it's going to cost. I was just going to send my family's presents in an envelope but I only have an A4 size one and it's just a little bit too small.  I found a small box to use instead so hopefully that won't jack the price up that much.  It's not that heavy.  I've also got t-shirts for Destini and a mag for Alison ready to go.  The shirts won't be much and I don't think the magazine will be either, since it's smaller than the last one I sent but you never know.  Now all that's left is to get my new year cards written and mailed.  At least my family's and Alison's will be done since I'm including them there.  I've already sealed up Destini's package and I don't feel like regluing/taping everything.  I would probably have to use a whole new envelope.  Oh well.  I wasn't thinking that far ahead when I went and got that ready.  Durrr.  The only thing I have to do is wrap the box in paper and address it.  I wish Japan Post provided packing supplies like they do in Canada.  They don't even sell fucking envelopes.  

I'm not really sleepy... I should be.  I will be tomorrow if I don't go to sleep soon.  I told myself I need to start going to be earlier because I'm not able to wake up at 6 anymore.  Or I wasn't last week.  Maybe it's because I spent the whole day at home and did nothing.  I finished watching Roswell ): and played video games.  I didn't even write.  But I thought about it.  I fended off people who wanted to sell me newspapers and make me pay for NHK.  I'm surprised that she didn't try to fight with me on that one.  She asked me if I had a TV and I said yes, but I only watched DVDs.  And she bought it.  Sweet. 

I'm feeling odd.  I don't want to say lonely... because I don't feel depressed or upset about being home alone.  Actually I was really looking forward to today after having been out an about for the last few weekends with next to no downtime.  I've never really had people lining up to talk to me or mountains of messages waiting for me ever, so I don't know why it should feel so strange now.  I sometimes wonder why I don't get more emails/letters than I do.  It's most definitely the fault of MSN; you talk to people more frequently and run out of things to say.  Although I write the randomest, moronic letters that just babble on about nothing.  Even with online friends, though, it seems like I have been out of touch with some people.  I don't know if it's my fault or just life butting its fat head in.  Maybe a combination of both.  Just ignore me, I'm not even making sense.

Today is the deadline for[ profile] je_ficgames.  I wonder when those will start getting posted.  I'm not even sure how the voting/point system really works... I have no idea what the rest of my team is doing except for 1 person.  It didn't really turn out to be such a "team" game, at least in my case.  There is one more day for[ profile] je_holiday and then those will start to be posted in 2 weeks.  It's really bizarre: I'm more interested in the feedback for my fic, and hope the reciepent likes it, than what I'm going to get.  

I've got to think up a new challenge for[ profile] kotobayori for December.  I feel like it's going to be half-assed on my part because I haven't really thought it through.  Meh.  Whatever. 

I hestitate to think about what my schedule for tomorrow/December is going to be like.  I wonder when/if Tatsuya is going to make his appearance.  He probably won't give me any warning again.  Prick.
aide: (大野 → Bow down to the King)
Tomorrow I'm heading to Asakusa to get a charm for dad's Christmas present, and will probably grab lunch with Andrew and troll around.  Then I'm meeting Tomoko for a lesson at 5.  I've got Destini's package all put together; I just hope I put enough glue and tape to keep the envelope closed!  I will drop it off at the post office on my way out tomorrow.  I have to start writing my cards and get those out as well.  

Today I got to watch a folk dance group, Araumaza, at school.  They did some folk dances and songs and taiko!  It was really awesome.  They did few songs from each season.  The last was a winter festival song that accompanies the Chichibu floats and I just found out that the Chichibu night festival is one of the 3 big festivals in Japan (along with the Gion Festival and Takayama Festival).  It happens every year on December 2nd and 3rd and I did some research thinking it would be cool to go to as least one of the big three, especially since it's in Saitama prefecture.  Except, it's on the other side of Saitama prefecture -- 3 hours and 2000+ yen away.  There goes that idea.  They also did the Shishimai (Lion dance for New Year) and did you know that the lion is supposed to bite your head to bring you good luck?  All the teachers got their heads knocked and a bunch of the kids.  They also did a few songs from Okinawa as well.  I love Okinawan music.  I have to go out and search for a CD of sanshin music before I leave Japan.  At the end, the vice-principal pointed me out and I can't help but feel a little bit used.  He gave some spiel about how next year the 5th grade will start studying English and the 6th graders will have moved up to middle school, and when they meet foreign people or go study overseas they can talk about Japanese culture and the folk dances that they saw today.  

I wish I had my camera on me to take some video but I'm never well prepared.  So I did some YouTube searching and found some of the things I saw today. :)

↑ Hachijo Island Taiko (Hachijo Island entertainment)

↑ Mizuguchi Bayashi (Mizuguchi accompaniment)

↑ Shishimai (Lion Dance)

↑ Arauma Odori (Wild Horse Dance)

↑ Hounen Odori (Harvest Dance -- this is a Kagoshima version)

↑ Chichibu Yatai Bayashi (Chichibu float accompaniment)

aide: (成 → Grr!)
I really want to.  I got my Christmas presents from mom and dad in the mail.  It's not even December yet!  One of them got totally mangled and the paper is all torn so I figure that's a lost cause.  Christmas doesn't really have the same... oomph it does back home.  I don't even have plans with Andrew yet.  Ah whatever.  I've never been one to wait.
aide: (Default)
Hello~ Flist!

Everyone is doing it, so I might as well too.  I'm trying to compile my list of recievers for cards this year and thought people on my flist might like some too.  If you're interested drop me a line... if I don't already have your address, give that too me.  You're more than welcome to send me cards too!  I think I got about 5 last year. ;_;

Heather McCaw
#103 Jeunet Palace Kashiwa 33
1-10-13 Akehara
Kashiwa-shi Chiba-ken 277-0843


I am 95% finished my Christmas shopping for my family.  They are actually getting presents from me this year!  I'm excited.  I hope they like.  I'm being really stubborn about sending this year because though I actually have money this year, I'm annoyed that I didn't even get a fucking card from some people last year.  No cool Japan stuff for you lazy bastards.  Can't even get off your asses to write me a goddamn email let alone throw a card in the mail.  Not even for my birthday.  Mama and Baachan are getting furoshiki and little quilted bags I got for 150 yen at the school bazaar.  Papa is getting a set of "my hashi" (travel chopsticks) and I'm going to get him a safe driving charm from Asakusa this weekend.  And I bought Sean the new Flumpool mini album.  I was going to try and find some Japanese metal but I didn't even know where to start and this one was only 1800 yen instead of 3000.  Score!  I really liked it (which is why I'm going to download it now) so I hope he does.  Or at least is open minded enough to give it a chance.

Keigo's baachan fed me cabbage roll today.  So I actually had a real meal instead of just cake for dinner tonight!  超うまい!
aide: (相葉 → Peeeace!)
Well, it actually is Thanksgiving this time, I will repeat entry titles.

Dinner was great. I only wish I had cooked more... I met Andrew and Bruno in Shinjuku around 11 and we did grocery shopping. We were in the supermarket for about 45 minutes, picking up all the ingredients we needed and debating about a few things. We had to ask for a whole raw chicken from the meat counter specifically because they only had cooked ones. And then wandered around Shinjuku looking for pie crust (or pie "sheets" as they call them here) for another 45... we went to three different department stores before being told we could find them on the 8th floor of Keio department store. There's a specialty baking shop there! You can get pizza crust, cakes, dough, and any tool/utensil under the sun. We got back to Takadanobaba around 12:30 and started to get our cook on.

I made kabocha potage again (but it wasn't as flavourful as the last time I made it, but everyone liked it), mashed potatoes, roast chicken, stuffing, gravy. The chicken came out perfectly! It only took an hour and a half and the meat just fell off the bones when I went to carve it. And the stuffing was moist and fluffy~ I should have cooked the potatoes longer, that's the only thing. They were a bit hard to mash and I like my potatoes really whippy. And even without the neck and giblets, the gravy was pretty tasty.

Andrew made pumpkin (kabocha) pie and it turned out awesome this time. The last time it didn't set up so it was more like... pumpkin mousse. We decided against buying cloves because he was never going to use them except for making pie but I think we should have. I like my pumpkin pie to be spicy. The texture was perfect though! I took pictures; maybe I'll post them later.

I was a bit late getting home but I mangaged to talk with my friend Heather on Skype at midnight for an hour or so and that was really great. I should make a point of doing that more often since I have a webcam finally, after all these years.

Today, I watched a crapload of D no Arashi and did laundry. Tomorrow, I have no classes so... I don't mind being tired since I won't be doing anything anyway. I'm going to try and write a bit now (which I have been saying all day, I know) and then watch Shukudai-kun. It's on at 12 for once; tonight's guest is Sekai no Nabeatsu. I have heard this name so much lately and I don't know who the fuck it is. Tonight, I'm going to find out!

[ profile] je_ficgames, I will finish you!
aide: (斗真 → Pose :D)
It's early... for everyone but we're celebrating today so we can have tomorrow to rest up before a new week. It's going to be a full house tonight... I don't even know how many people are going to come. It seems like we invite new people daily. So far, I've counted 13 people and I'm sure there are others I forgot/didn't know were invited. I just realized Christian is coming but I also invited Sachiyo... but she's so flakey I don't know if she's actually coming. But Amanda and Nikki are and the three of them are attached at the hip. Could but awkward but I couldn't really care less. Grow up already.

Sawara was so freaking cool!! It was a bit of an ordeal making our way out there. I missed my transfer at Abiko so I had to wait 30 minutes for the next train to Narita station and Andrew and Bruno were late too. The Keisei line kept stopping randomly. I feel terrible because Leigh waited in Narita for an hour before I showed up and she came all the way from Goi. But it worked out... it was kind of shitty and rainy so we went for coffee and waited an hour for the next train. Apparently the station master said there's only trains every hour because no one goes to Choshi. LOL

The weather was shit when we arrived but ended up clearing up by mid-afternoon. The historical district is so beautiful! The Ono River goes through and you can take a boat tour for 1000 yen but we thought that was a bit steep so we just walked. There were people in festival garb everywhere and huge carts with figures on top where the musicians rode. They were covered up with plastic to keep them dry at first but luckily we could see them without later on. When the festival actually seemed to get going around 3-4pm everyone was dancing in the street. I took some video but the sun was right in front so it's a bit glarey. Even little kids were dancing! And festival food... YUM. I binged a bit (meaning I had some and not none like usual because I'm cheap) because this is likely the last festival of the year that I'll go to.

We saw a kimono shop on the way in and stopped on our way back to the station and spent nearly an hour in there! There was a resale section on the second floor and two ladies working there were so kind when we bombarded them with questions and asking for suggestions about colours and stuff. I found a green kimono (!!) and got a dusty pink obi (though it's more for yukata becuase it's the half size one) and a black haori (short jacket) with a chrysanthemum? design. All for 3500 yen! Andrew got a few haori and a little bag for Christmas gifts and Leigh got a kimono for 2100 yen. I am going to make sure to go back there before I leave Japan.

Alright! Now time to get ready and leave in half an hour to meet Andrew for grocery shopping!
*Will edit pictures with descriptions later~~
aide: (Default)
I went to Osaka last weekend for a 5 day trip and it was amazing.  We got back on Thursday morning but I haven't had a chance to sit down and write up a sufficient post about it.  I spent all of Thursday uploading pictures and anotating things but I need to sit down and write a proper entry... tomorrow I'm busy, so maybe on Tuesday.

Until then, you can see my pictures and Justin's pictures

Tonight [info]shourai & company came over and we dressed up in yukata to go to my neighbourhood bon odori taikai!  Obon is one of the main holidays in Japan; its in the middle of August and people pilgrimage back to their ancestral home and pray to the ancestors and Obon dances remember and appreciate their sacrifices. Yuka's mom taught me how to tie an obi properly so it was my first attempt to wear a yukata out in public.  I think it went alright, actually.  Nothing came undone, so that's a good thing.  They came over around 3pm and we got dressed and left around 4.  It was being held at Asahi Higashi Elementary school but the school yard was empty when we got there.  It's an evening event so we went and sand karaoke for a few hours.  There was this bunch of grannys going to karaoke and one of them felt us all up!  She tapped all our boobs... which isn't really weird for me because Asian people don't have boobs and are therefore fascinated with them... but then she was like "Sorry, I'm really drunk" and then kind of tipped over.  XD  I love old people sometimes.  It was hilarious.

After singing we went back to the school and enjoyed the taikai!  It was so fun~  They set up a tiered stage in the middle of the field, on the top level were drummers and musicians, and in the middle were dancers.  There were a few more drummers on the ground and tents around the field selling food and drink and some festival games as well.  There was even a fireworks display.  We saw one of the grannies from karaoke there and some other lady came up to us and complimented our yukata and told us to dance.  We ate and drank a bit before joining in.  It was so fun!  It's a bit tricky at first but you just dance in a circle around the stage and follow the ladies on stage or the person next to/in front of you.  And its all repetative anyway.

It was such a great experience.  I remember going to a bon odori taikai in Singapore with Yoko and some friends but this was so much better.  Kids, parents and grandparents just dancing together, it was a really communal feeling.  I saw a girl from my school too but she was too shy to say hi to me.  And I didn't say hi to her... maybe I should have.  I took some video on my phone, I wonder if it will work.  Please to be sharing photos/videos when you get a chance to upload!

aide: (Default)
kon² [Dear Science: Fuck you. Fuck you with something hard and sandpapery. xoxo Starr.] says:
-shakes head- Focus, Starr, FOCUS.

His gratitude came out in a slightly softer, lower, heavier tone; the thanksgiving encompassed more than just food, though he wasn’t exactly sure what.

This sentence made me think of both sex and turkey. Same sentence, two different random thoughts. Amazing. XD
Heather says:
kon² [Dear Science: Fuck you. Fuck you with something hard and sandpapery. xoxo Starr.] says:
Lmfaoooo. They were just two random thoughts, not together--

Nino: I've had sex and turkey together. Cranberry sauce may or may not have been involved as well.

But the part before the semicolon, I was like oh, yeah, that's definitely a sex tone. Like, his voice lowers, prelude to sex. (And then the small rational part of my brain was like NO IT'S NOT, KEEP READING. But then the rest of my brain,
the Arashi porn section, kicked that part in the shins and now it's crying in the corner and I haven't heard from it since) and then ... you said thanksgiving, and I was like turkey wut1/1/1
Thus, sex and turkey.


Apr. 5th, 2008 11:14 pm
aide: (Bitch slapped)
From doing nothing all day.  Fuck.  LOL  That's a lie, I did a load of laundry and chatted with this American lady who lives around here and I've seen around before.  It was nice talking to someone new for a change.  Coincidently, her name is Heather too and she's been in Japan for 6 years, before that Korea.  She teaches at some vocational college (English I'm assuming).  Totally bible thumper and I thought she was going to try and convert me with her bible sitting on the table but we just chatted.  I cleaned my room finally, it was so gross.  Definitely needed it.  Then I've been watching Goong all afternoon.  It's starting to grate my nerves though becuase it's getting soooooo draaaaawwwn ouuuuuttttt that it makes me want to give up on it even thought I'm on episode 22 of 24.  But FUCK.  Just say what you mean and tell her you love her and stop being a snarky bastard and have a happy ending.  Although it's sad because the hot cousin isn't going to get the girl at the end. :(  Oh well.

Haven't gotten many replies from Cohabitation but I think its because it's a pairing that not many people ship.  I don't see many Matsumiya fics out there.  But I still think it's cute and I am totally love the Sex and the City reference.  Screw everyone else!  I am teh awesomeee.  Not really.  I want to write [profile] tohshimari's prompt next but I'm not sure where I want to go with it yet. 

PENIS FESTIVAL TOMORROW!  That's right.  PENIS.  My family is going to get a shock out of that update, I think.  I will update with tons and tons of fun pictures of PENII.  But I have to get on the train at 8:30am so that means I should be waking up at 7 so I can hit snooze for an hour.  So I should probably go to sleep soon but I kind of want to suffer through the rest of this episode.  JUST MAKE UP ALREADY.

Happy 2008!

Jan. 1st, 2008 12:22 pm
aide: (Sho <3)

Akemashite omedetou~ 
Happy New Year~

Spent a most excellent night in Roppongi last night with Andrew and friends.  Unfortunately, I have to start the new year off with a cold.  What luck.  But, I ate soba on the last day of 2007 for long life and visited the shrine to wish for good luck at 4:30am, January 1st before hitting up MacDonald's for the first meal of the year.  Got home around 7am, slept til 2pm and spent the rest of the day watching CSI:Miami on DVD.  This is promising.  Here's wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous Year of the Rat.  For all you '84 babies, this is your year!  Make it a good one!!

去年、ありがとうございます。 今年も、よろしくお願いします!
Kyonen, arigatou gozaimasu.  Kotoshi mo, yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
Thank you so much for last year.  This year, I ask for your favour again!

aide: (Sho Stalks)

New Year is looming, its in the air.  The biggest holiday in Japan is one day away!  It seems like the country is starting to grind to a halt and everyone has gone back to their ancestral hometowns; I went to Minami Senju last night and the train was practically empty.  On the other, people are rushing around getting last minute preparations for the New Year.  I've been told everything stops for 2-3 days (banks, services, etc) but shops seem to be open for regular business on the 1st.  I went out today to run some errands and it was crazy.  The grocery store was packed.  But, it could also be because its a Sunday afternoon and people are home from work and therefore out shopping. 

I inherited a few things from Justin last night because he's been booted out of his Nova apartment in Minami Senju.  He's pretty choked up, since its a pretty nice location.  It's on the north-east edge of Tokyo; almost in the 'burbs, but still in the city.  He's moving temporarily to Warabi in Saitama until he can find a place in the city.  I scored a new futon (since mine is growing (more) mold) and a DVD player.  I had to switch the region on my laptop to play Japanese DVDs so I was planning to get an external player so I can switch my computer back.  It's a pain because you can only change the region 4 times.  After the last time, it's stuck that way.  I'm quite pleased that I managed to score this little player for free.  I went to Bic Camera to get cables for the player on my giant errand trip, and after staring at rack upon rack of cables for thirty minutes, picked one and it turns out the end is wrong.  GAH!  So I have to go out again tomorrow and exchange it.  What a pain.  Go figure. 

I'm almost done my new year cleaning as well.  I'm half-done my laundry, and only have the bathroom left to clean.  I had planned to get up early (didn't happen) to air out my futons and get my laundry done and hung up since it was supposed to be sunny.  I made a move at noon, and at 12:30 a storm rolled in and started hailing!  Since I had so much laundry to do, I'd have had to make two trips anyway, so I did the bulky, heavy stuff today so it could have time to dry.  Ironically, by the time I was done at the laundromat the storm passed and the sun was out again.  I also got a お正月飾り oshougatsu kazari (New Year decoration) for my door.  It's made of pine branches and supposed to welcome good luck to your house for the new year.  It's hung until January 7th, but then I'm not sure what you're supposed to do with it. 
aide: (Default)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.  Seeing as how Christmas is nearly over for me, I should update before my time runs out.

I can't believe I've neglected my blog for such a long time!  Things have been both busy and boring at the same time.  I was teaching full-time up until last Thursday, and then have been entertaining a house guest until today and celebrating Christmas in pseudo-Japanese fashion.

Things haven't been so fluffy and lovely lately, unfortunately.  My culture shock has finally decided to rear its ugly head.  I've been slowly setting up my place and getting things organized in terms of utilities and payments and such.  I thought I was such a clever bastard for doing the fuikomi (electronic transfer) for December's rent by myself but I laughed too soon.  A few weeks ago, I got a call from the rental company (I only presumed) saying that they hadn't recieved my payment.  I haven't been so frustrated since I came to Japan; I could understand the gist of what this guy was saying to me, but didn't have the vocabulary and language skills to defend myself and speak to this guy.  I proceeded to collapse on the floor after the call and bawl my eyes out.  In addition to that, I couldn't pay my phone bill because my bank doesn't pay bills, and I can't get to a bank or post office before they close for the day after work.  Things that aren't even major were pissing me off, and still are.  As Andrew and Yvonne put it, I have become one of those jaded, bitter gaijin.  We have fun gaijin rants quite freqently.  Anyway, finally got that sorted and transfered my rent today for December and direct withdrawl will start next month for the month of February.  The woman I've been doing all my dealings with is so nice.  She sent me a letter today, which I suspect was hand delivered to my mailbox, saying that I have to furikomi my rent this month, with furigana and a crude, handwritten translation in English.  Yvonne was there to help me transfer, and I thought that it was only 42,000 yen, but its supposed to be 42,500.  I hope they won't be too picky about 5$ and I'll just add it on next time. 

I was finally paid for the first time in two months and it's such a relief.  Money is still tight, but things are getting back to normal.  Work is great and I'm really starting to feel at home.  We had our bonenkai (Year End Party) on Friday night at a little restaurant in Kashiwa (a branch of the same place we held Christian's farewell party) followed by karaoke, of course.  It was nice to relax and socialize with the teachers, who I don't normally have a chance to talk to at work.  I was sat at the same table as the principal, Mr. Iwahara, the music teacher, Ms. Fujiwara, and few other teachers.  The table next to us had Mr Nakamura and Ms Imai, two of the English teachers so I had some translators on hand.  I also got out my handy mobile phone dictionary but managed to hold my own pretty well in broken Japanese and English.  I also had a good conversation with the 1st year PE teacher, who is moving to a high school in Tokyo next school year.  Everyone embraced me warmly and I had a great time.  I even exchanged numbers with some of the female teachers and we'll go drinking together in the New Year.  I was also invited on a ski trip over the February holiday weekend, which I agreed to.  Although, I don't know if I will end up going...  I can't ski, for one.  I don't have the right clothes, secondly.  I really wish I had brought my ski jacket now.  UGH!  Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it.  What a pain!  Andrew and I are thinking we might go visit Yvonne in Nagoya that weekend, since she's come to see us every month since October. 

The day after the bonenkai, Yvonne came to spend Christmas.  She helped me do errands and sort out house-related stuff.  We shopped, we ate, we ranted, we sang karaoke.  Monday was our big Christmas party.  Christmas Eve is like Valentines day in Japan, so Yvonne and I rode the train out with couples galore to Odaiba, the big date spot in Tokyo.  Andrew and I have been talking about Christmas and our "White Christmas" party for ages, and he actually procured a turkey in Tokyo.  I never thought we'd find one, let alone get one, but we did.  It was a pain in the ass, and I'm never doing it again.  Murphy's law prevailed, of course.  Andrew's building has units that have their own kitchens, but in the other building, they don't so there are communal kitchens on each floor that have ovens.  So the plan was to break in and use an oven to cook the turkey.  Things started off well enough when we timed out entry just right, and got in without having to wait.  We got off at the 6th floor, and people were in the kitchen so we went up to 7 and found it empty.  We got the bird and stuffing ready and fired up the oven which had probably never been cleaned.  Ever.  The kitchen was a disaster.  I though that the Totem floor lounges were disgusting.  Anyway, we got the bird in.. and I went to check it and take out the gizzard and stuff after an hour and found the oven had turned off!  First emergency.  It took forever to heat back up again since the thing was so tiny and the turkey took up 80% of the space inside.  In the meantime, I cooked the potatoes and carrots to heat up in the microwave later.  Andrew and Yvonne had to make an emergency grocery run to get ingredients to make pumpkin pie while I held down the fort.  A few people came in to cook their lunches and gave me the 3rd degree which made me feel really uncomfortable.  I thought one of them might be an RA come to kick me out, but that wasn't the case.  Long story short, 5 hours later, the turkey was done.  I didn't think we'd pull it off but we did.  Dinner was served at 7pm, and we stuffed our faces with good food and drink.

Today, Yvonne and I procured a rice cooker for me and discovered a great Singaporean Hainan chicken restaurant in Shimbashi.  It was heavenly.  Tasted JUST like jifan (chicken rice) back in Singapore.  It is one for the books and I will return many a time before I leave Japan.  Sent Yvonne off from Tokyo station and hunted for a book with Andrew throughout Ueno, with no success.  We saw people pulling down all the Christmas decorations already and Christmas isn't even officially over yet.  Tomorrow, everything will be replaced with New Year decorations and the big push to finish everything before the year ends will begin.  I need to clean up my house, settle all my bills, and figure out where I am going to hatsumode on January 1st.  Hatsumode is the first visit to the shrine in the new year.  There is a big shrine in Kashiwa on the other side of the station but I have a feeling I'm going to get a call from Yoshimi or Mr Nakamura asking me to go with them.

Anyway, I hope you all had a fattening and festive holiday!

April 2010

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