Wednesday, February 28, 2007

If you're anything like me, then....

you'll wanna see what these babies can do. Will they free your mind, kill the blind or hide your hunger? A hunger for what, I'm curious to ask us both, you and I?Pretty little things can slice your in-betweens. And again, i might ask, of what exactly are you hungry for? Those things of Spring, that everyone sings and dances for
who loves it more...
who splashes spore....
Why is Spring such a special, luscious and beautiful thing?
I find it such a bore!
As if digging through the floor
in hopes of finding a trace of steel, or gold, a whore, or more...........

What else more can babies girgle for?

The bugs are back!

I'm usually a little weary about answering my house phone during the hours I know California should be sleeping. So if the phone rings after an hour of returning from school, I take it as my cue to step out my front door for a smoke. Only tonight, the rattley ring switched places with my smoke through the barely open window, so I came back in, still lit, opened my kangaroo Cabernet and answered.

Oh, Dad.

I suppose it's not his fault that his job ends after 10pm, thus making 1am the time when he gets just drunk enough, just bored enough, just lonely enough to call me. It's been since New Years-ish since we last spoke. And well, to be honest, I really wanted inside my bottle of wine. A week is just too long for such a thing to rest upon my shelf.

So after the obligatory greetings and gruffings about my faulty machine, my ever-nonpresence at home, and an unwillingness to return emails, I ask him, "How's taco tuesdays?"

There we go! Weave and dodge, lady, weave and dodge.

He admits that taco tuesdays left when I did, due to Del Taco's ever-changing advert campaigns and FX's re-scheduling of The Shield. The fact that tequila still remains (x2) unsaid.

He breaks the moment by asking what I'm reading, which we both know is always a successful topic between us two. Only this time, did I have to bend the truth, and not for my usual purpose of making things more interesting, but to avoid another argument. If I admitted that I was back to reading BK, he'd just remember our last conversation about books, father figures and religion. If I admitted to putting BK on hiatus to read the borrowed book, Middlesex, I'd only hear sarcastic remarks about the subject matter. He's not so much of a fan of hermaphroditis, incest and sexual ambiguity as I tend to be.

So I lied and told him i was reading Bridget Jone's Diary. This is not so much a lie, as I actually did finish it last weekend. And I'm not going to pretend that cheesy, Cosmo-esque literature doesn't entertain me. And I won't lie in admitting that I enjoyed the 2.5 hours I spent in bed with her. So there. Bridget Jones is awesome. What, wanna fight about it?

He didn't get to the point of the call until I was halfway done with my last glass of wine. This posed quite a problem. So i took in the shortened version of family drama, and announced that i had a previous engagement. This is where I took in a shower, prepared tomorrow's graduation ceremony outfit, and slipped under my electric womb and oldest friend, Fyodor. I don't know what it is about this book that draws me in like an orphan to a stranger's Christmas dinner. Though I can spout the boring, pretentious topics that so many of my peers find crucial while discussing this book, I prefer to focus on my facination with the least drama-addled, thus most boring character, Alyosha.

I can't help but be attracted to this person who is given so much attention and adoration for being the most gentle and naive being. He's the complete opposite and foreign personality from the author in that his character's heart is pure, untouched by the shittiness around him, most specifically Russia and his family. Yet, the novel godifies him, literally idolizing his naivity. I just become enamored of the author so much more when I see him...obviously crazy, been through the harshest conditions of societal condemnation, suffering silently through years in a pound you in the ass Russian prison, and almost welcoming the abandonment of all his friends and family.....still muster up the kind of innocence, hope, and naivity to shed lavishly on such a minor character.

This brings up the thoughts of the minor characters in everyone's life, though I'm only qualified in naming my own. I'd like to think Mark Summers, the host of Double Dare, to be one of my minor characters. That show meant alot to me once.
I have other, real life characters.....names I mutter in my sleep, pictures of whom i fold into books, children of those I stalk on myspace. If I weren't in such a weird mood, I'd be likely to indulge you.

But alas, I feel this might be more of a Subrosa topic. So I will just draft for now. But I would like to say just one more thing........

"The bugs are back, and they're gonna be in trouble....
hey la, hey la, the bugs are back...
When you see them coming, you better cut out on the double
hey la, hey la, the bugs are back..."

I was accosted by a swarm of gnats on riding home from school. They molested my vision, and attempted entrance to my mouth. Some of them succeed in all attempts. I hate those bugs. I hate em for real!!!!!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Loopy-(adj)-term used to describe one suffering from The Loops

The Loops-noun: a state of consciousness caused by after-effects of dousing the brain and other important organs in the body to a substantial amount of abusive conditions. Most commonly associated with the days following ingestion of alcohol or other cell killing agents. Some describe the Loops condition as feeling as you are running on the last 2 percent of brain capacity. Doctors claim one should not operate heavy machinery or make critical life decisions while experiencing the Loops. (see also: the loopy loops and Loopidity.)

Saturday, and most of Sunday was spent suffering through and recovering from the Loops. I did so by sleeping until 3pm, until deciding that I ought to come downstairs and fill myself with some H2O. After a bit, I tried to ignore and conquer the terrible way I felt by sending some texts to Kate and Glen to see if they were heading to Hama, as planned. I said to myself, "self, if they go, you're going. so just deal with it." After some time spent in the wonderfully warm womb of my electric blanket, I learned that the kiddies decided to keep it a Shimada night. And after my arguments with my blanket on whether I would leave it or not, I decided to make us both happy and pack it to come with, thus beginning my journey to K's house, then Glen's. The night was quite pleasant as always, spilling into today. Very low key, very minimalistic, very chill and delicious. Delicious is the new name for the great nasu/parmesean-pepper bread meal that Kate and I have perfected. After a couple of Simpsons and Family Guy episodes, we had a bit of talk, attempts at Japanese study, then Trader Joes' sipping chocolate, and I came back home to clean and prepare for tomorrow.
Now that it is all done, and I'm close to heading for bed, I will tell you exactly how this case of the Loops was formed. It all began at Locky's birthday dinner where I discovered that this restaurant serves Coronas with LIME. Real lime! Not the little packets of lemon juice that they attach to the neck of the Coronas you buy at the Konbini. Which, coincidentally I had discovered for the first time the night before after Dave's and my attempt at watching the newest episode of Lost. To tell you the truth though, the little packets of lemon juice are not that bad, just not the same as having the little squirty lime pulp with some salt chilling on the rim.
So yes, Locky's dinner, at a little restaurant whose name I now forget, in Kikugawa, was quite nice. Here's the delicious cake.
Here's a group shot. These kids have all been here since last year, and will be leave Japan in August, which i'm pretty sad about. And another with me.Here's a nice pic of Grace and her boo, Dani.Here's a pic of Kjell, Dani and birthday boy. Grace was the mastermind behind the shot, as she wanted a picture illustrating the great difference in height between the boys. That makes this a little funnier, doesn't it? Good job Grace....but yr a meanie!
I call this picture the Love Train.

And this one I like to call "Who's turn to Say Grace?". *
So shortly after I drank a whole lotta Coronas, and two WiSuKi RokU (whiskeys on the rocks), I rode home with them on the train and departed first as "Sugi wa Shimada desu" (Next stop, Shimada) is the first of the stops after Kikugawa. After departing the train station and unlocking my bike, I began to ride when I felt a small vibration in my pocket. It was a text from Leonie, saying that her and her work buddies are drinking in Shimada. So I ask where, and what the fuck....they are right around the corner in a bar with a red door, glowing light tables, and a dart board. So I enter, introduce, and order more beer. The night continues in this fashion for a couple more hours. And boy can these kids drink! Also, I discover that Cat's boyfriend is totally False Tom Gilmartin. He reminded me of him so much, down to way he talked and the jokes he told. After throwing back a few, I was on a nickname basis calling him Champion, as I used to call Tom. After playing darts with the girls, they grew frustrated at my strange talent for dart aiming and we left to sing some Karaoke. This involved buying more beer, and by that time.....I was much past my limit. We sung cheesy things like Smooth Operator, Karma Police and Bohemian Rhapsody before feeling like all the alcohol has finally hit our livers. After stumbling out of "My Pleasure" karaoke, I said goodbye to these new strangers and began my bike ride home.
This was not cute. In Japan, it is illegal to drink and ride your bike. AND, for good reason. There are ditches, and small roads everywhere that pose serious dangers for any bike rider. Just ask Davey, who has already fell into a stream (unharmed thankfully), but then ask Ethan, some kid living in Shizuoka who broke his arm after passing out into a river. I found it incredibly hard to ride my bike home on Friday, let us just leave it at that.
After returning home, I decided I still wasn't ready for bed, so I came home and checked my email where I found my mother and brother casually surfing the web, logged into Gmail chat. This is when I found out that Toby is going to be an aunt. Yes, my bro has knocked up (his exact words) his new girlfriend , and will be soon having a child. Though, my reaction was more along the lines of "what the hell are you thinking?", I cannot wait to be an aunt. I'm going to spoil that kid like frickin' crazy. Even though I will miss the first year or so of its life while being here in Japan, I will still guarantee that I will stake my claim as favorite aunt ever. Just watch and see!!!!
*yes, i know i'm cheesy and stupid. My answer to what?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


While trying to remain in control of my bike as I tuck my hands into my sleeves, I curse whatever star-alignment is responsible for influencing my attitudes toward mornings. I have despised waking up since childhood. And I vividly remember the weekly disappointment of missing the earlier Saturday morning cartoons like Garfield and Friends, the Ninja Turtles, and Heathcliff. But these days, I wake up at around 7:45, literally 15 minutes before I must lock my door, and mount my bicycle for school.

So after factoring in the time it takes to regain functioning consciousness, brushing my teeth and hair, choosing adequate, matching clothing, and gathering my phone, iPod, keys, and jacket....well, I'm almost always late.

So being the end of the week, I found that I've worn each of my "work" pants. You know, every one of the 5 pairs of bottoms I own that are NOT jeans. In a panic, I decided to go through my wardrobe and seek out one of my "emergency" outfits.

This is when I rediscovered my favorite pair of black slacks that I loved when I first arrived in Japan. I had bought them at this cheap ass store in North Hollywood, and became obsessed with them once becoming acquainted with the hot, Japan summer. They are thin, cotton dress pants that give the impression of being a professional, while feeling like you're chilling in sweats. In one word, I'd say they are awesome.

But, DO know that they were purchased from a store called Fashion for Less, and the reason I had stopped wearing them was because of a hole that formed near the my front zipper. But try reminding a girl like me of this fact, while she's stumbling around her room in a sleepy frenzy!

And now we return to the beginning of my post. I'm crossing the street a block from my school, while shielding my hands from the cold when I look down and see my undies showing.

Fuck. Oh ya, these pants have a hole. Oh, ya, I'm wearing a short shirt that does not cover this hole. Hey, you dummy, your hole is still showing.

Do something.

But I'm late. What can I do?

So I decide to use one hand to steer, and one to attempt a nonchalant appearance of holding my hand down by my crotch. I do this the rest of the way to school, while simultaneously avoiding all eye contact. And again, I silently curse at whatever it is about me that makes me hate mornings so much as to not wake myself up with enough time to make the clever wardrobe decisions that everyone else seems completely competent in making.

Once arriving at school, I head to the bathroom where I find that I can manuever my shirt and jacket to cover this embarrassing fashion choice. I then realize that I will be having two, 65 minute timespans where 40 students will be staring directly at me. Okay, this is going to require some serious slight of hands, and much attention on my part.

I believe that I succeeded in covering the hole throughout the day, though i have no concrete proof. But the whole episode led me to wonder why i would even allow this to even happen. I probed my brain's theories slash subconscious on why I encounter problems like this.
Just don't believe its normal.

This is when I realized that I oftentimes "accidentally" make situations potentially embarrassing for myself. It's almost like my subconscious craves unnecessary hurdles to overcome. As if I want additional challenges in my life, perhaps even desiring hardship, ludicrousy, and stress. It was then that I likened myself to Woody Allen. I am almost convinced that I semi-purposely enjoy creating situations where I feel uneasy and worried. Could it be true?

My brother may...

...just be the best person ever! Here's what he sent me as a myspace comment. Best comment ever!!!!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Stupid New Blogger

I've been avoiding the change for a few months. But today, they finally busted my balls and forced me to switch. I don't even see what the big new deal is. Looks the same to me, with minor changes such as labeling your posts sos that others can search you out better, and now logging in through Gmail. Guess there was a buy-out or a merge or whatever the term is for that sort of thing. Whatever, the bigger question may be.....why am i writing at 4:45 am?

Well, yesterday after coming home from school, i felt placidly unmotivated, and decided to color. I wanted to watercolor, but only had markers available to me, so i did, and promptly fell asleep about 1/3 of the way into greenifying my lephrechan's hat. So, yes, I was again stricken by a classic episode of lazyiness. I slept through a dinner that never made itself, Week 1, Day 1 of Book 4, Beginning level Japanese, a walk around my neighborhood accompanied by my BFF, Mypod, Oh, and beginning my attempt to translate "emotion" by Natsumi Hirota, which is a comic book whose cover features a blond, short haired total lezzy looking J-boy and the main character, whose name I haven't been able to figure out because I'm THAT BAD at reading a book intended for about a 2nd grade elementary student. (Grade Level theory based on the fact that ALL the Kanjis have hiragana beside them in smaller font.)

So yes, I fell asleep on my couch at 6pm. (Mental note, do not leave my blankets downstairs, in immediate view, once home from school. Temptation, too great.) So, after dozing for 8 hrs, I awoke, became upset, and forced myself back to sleep. After awaking from my El Farolito/Mario's dream, I realized I was hungry and couldn't no longer be forced to sleep. I dreamt that I was with Traci, Pam and Gabby, waiting to order at El Farolito. I got up to the register, simultaneously peeking into my wallet, when I grew nervous.

"Puedo pagar con Yen? "

"Eh, yen?"

"Si, yen, si sabe, dinero japones."


So after learning that my friends are broke ass pigeons and couldn't spot my lunch, we decided to go next door, to Mario's. As any Mexican food aficionado from the East Bay knows, Mario's is on Telegraph while El Farolito is on International. Ha, ha, but not so in my dreams! In this beautiful world, they are practically holding hands. So we go inside, and I announce to the restaurant, "God, I love America." Uncharacteristic, maybe. But I was really happy, like really really happy to be there at that time. And i was hungry! So I order a carne asada burrito with sour cream and guacamole, covered in enchilada sauce, cheese and more sour cream and Guac. After a period of vague, dreamlike happenings, it is time to pay and leave. While everyone puts down their 5's, two 1's and change (i'll say it again, "fuckin' broke ass pigeons") I leave ni sen yen, (you know, for the inconvenience of the waiter having to explain it to el jefe), and leave. While leaving, I remembered my dream ending with my thinking "can't wait for dinner sandwiches from Geneva." I'm a total dream pig. Though, on my behalf, I will admit that in forgetting to take a lunch yesterday, I had an apple and like 7 mugs of green tea all day. Oh ya, and conversation hearts that my Mommy sent me in a package with my W2's, which conveniently arrived at school right at lunchtime.

So upon waking, I considered the options. Read? nah. Watch more South Parks? nah. Stu..nah. Make breakfast...mmm, later. Will feel too piggy eating before 7. You know, i try and abide by the Gremlin feeding after midnight. Clean? Fuck nah. Call California? Well,'s noon, but really, until I buy myself a portable phone, i really hate to be stuck on that cord for too long. Alright then, write.....the perfect combination of chill activity, not feeling like you wasted an hour, but rather satisfying one of your goals of wanting to call your friends and tell them your dream without actually having to.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Simple girls are pleasured by

simple things. I had a very good day today, though nothing specifically wonderful happened. Perhaps it was just the windy weather and a windy mood that did me in. I suppose the unexpected invitation to go and see the ume (plum) blossoms in the middle of the school day began things. Or maybe it was how I spoke on the phone with a long, lost friend. Perhaps it was the facinating conversation I had with adult learners of English about city vs. central government when subbing for my friend, Grace's, night class. Then again, it could have been the super cute conversation I held with one of my students on the train ride back home. (Broken English, broken Japanese convos are the best!) Then to top it off, perhaps it could have been the friendly hi/bye passing-by I had with a group of teachers who were heading home finishing an after-work drinking session. By this point, I had decided that it would be nice to stop by the Konbini and buy a plum chu-hai (like a wine cooler) to keep me company as I write about my lovely day. Which ended perfectly when my favorite store lady ran out of the back room after hearing me say "konbawa", or "nice night" and gave me 2 cans of green tea. Today was so friendly and it made me happy. Simple pleasures for a simple girl.

Mr. Yamaguchi and Mr. Fujita suggested that we take an afternoon drive to see the plum blossoms which only bloom for about 2 weeks. So we did.
After passing by the take (bamboo) woods, we found a small field of plum trees. Since Fujita-sensei is the leader of the mountain hiking club, he knows all the good spots.
They taught me that not only are the blossoms delicately scented, they also come in several varieties which means different colors and sizes. These had white leaves with pink middles and radiated a delicious scent.
The pinker ones may be a bit more beautiful, but lack in a such strong, sweet scent.
I came.
I saw.
I conquered.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dude, I still go to school.......

With all this talk about fancy travels around Japan, I thought I'd remind everyone, including myself, how I spend 5/7ths of my time here. That's right, photographing children.

Nah, but seriously, I wouldn't want to forget all the neato things that happen in a typical Japanese high school. Things like assemblies, school marathons, and disaster drills. Here's some of all that for ya....

The award ceremony announcing the top runners in the school marathon.
The starting line of the 10K marathon by the Oigawa river.

Outside of class.......

The girls running beneath the train heading to Kanaya.
Evacuation practice from the 3rd floor.
Students preparing for their descent down the chute.
Bottom of the chute, notice our principal in the blue.
In the chute.
Out the chute
And here's the lil army squating in their homeroom rows.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sapporo Snow Festival

Hokkaido, the place of the Ainu, famous for things like a tsunami last month, crab, cows and their milk (and its cheese and chocolate), ramen, lavender and melon. Hokkaido is cold. Cold is Hokkaido.
Sapporo, the biggest city in Hokkaido with a population of about 1.6 million. Why do i know this? Well, because I done learned how to read sos I could peruse the little travel brochures. Yuki Omatsuri, or the Snow Festival attracts a gazillion tourists, but I did not have a chance to really experience that statistic, as i visited during the days before, while they were finishing the final touches. I'm extremely grateful for that though, because just seeing the population grow during the preparatory period was enough to school me good. As you know, Toby hates the masses.
I went with a group of 27 fellow JETfaces and we stayed at this hotel. It was alright. The information staff was pretty awesome, but the rooms were hella hot. Whatevs, though, accommodations are not that important.

Happy Sappy Sapporo

My travels consisted of Shimada->Shinagawa->Haneda Airport->Chitose Airport->Downtown Sapporo. This is the view after walking out of the train station. Take notice of the chosen attire of the two women walking outside at night. The temperature is about -6 Celsius. Uhhh, ya. That's Japan, man.
Click the pic for a larger view, and you will see
the ad for Suntory Whiskey. For a relaxing time, make it Suntory time.
Before departure, I spent the downtime of waiting to board by skimming through the brochures. The third tourist spot listed was the bust of William S. Clark. I was sure to bring this strange fact to the attention of the kids I was chillin' with. It made me laugh. However, I did in fact encounter this bust while checking out Hokkaido University. The uni was very beautiful with the vastness of untouched snow, however I still thought that mine has a prettier campus. William S. Clark is the founder of HU. We surmised that he's probably from Masschusetts. As it turns out, I developed a huge crush on Mr. Clark. I even lucked out by acquiring a small pin, captioned by his motto "Boys, be ambitious", while trying out the hyaku toy bubble machine.
I purposely left out Sapporo's best claim to fame, the beer brewery because we all know where that delicious beer comes from. From here.
This is the clock tower. It, too, is high on the list of tourist spots, but not that impressive, or so i thought.
Now here's my happy place. I admired it for 2 days before finding it on route to the delicious crab restaurant we dined in. As a few of us were walking to it in hopes to ride, it went to sleep. I did not get to go on the ferris wheel, or the false London eye as it was more popularly named.
These are just sticks. They help the trees survive the heaviness of the snow weighing down on the branches. I'm actually a little confused as to why i posted this. Whatever.
We all know my fondness for my best friend, biru. No caption is necessary.


A small stream runs through the university. We witnessed black crows wading, but for some reason they flew away as i approached.
My attempt at child abduction.
Tasha told us a funny story about this boy who lost his bike for a winter due to a heavy snow. That was funny. It reminded me of the Big Bear City legend of the boy who went missing and whose body later reached the banks of the lake once the ice was shooed away by the Spring. I didn't tell that story though, because after the reaction to my last morbid story of the cat in Gilroy, I decided death stories are no fun. True, I am telling the story now, but morbidity in print is so in these days:)
This made everybody laugh, including me. Natasha beautifully described it as a drowning snowman. There were further jokes on this scene, but they cannot be recreated, so I'll bother not.
Haha, oh these Sapporian jokesters!
Trying to be like Austin powers.
Japanese nature flaunting its beauty once again.
I'm still confused by this. For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of Japan, check a map and see why.

Best thing about visiting Sapporo: the food and the peeps you eat it with

Ahhhh, man. Sapporo's got some good food. Here is Ramen Alley, where many of us ate our second night. I am sorry to admit this, though, that the ramen I eat across the bridge in Kanaya, still reigns supreme.
As you can guess by the name, Ramen Alley has a shitload of Ramen restaurants. Now why did we choose this one? Well the answer comes in the form of the woman holding the Setsubun mask. She came and beckoned us into this restaurant with a shitload of genki-ness.
Forgive me while I plagerize wikipedia for the description of Feb. 3rd. "This traditional holiday, although not a national holiday, marks the beginning of spring. Setsubun inherits a number of traditions peculiar to the season. One of these traditions is mamemaki, the throwing of beans. In which, one throws roasted beans out of one's home, crying oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi ("out with the devils, in with good fortune"). There are regional variations of this saying, and one temple in Nara Prefecture even invites the devils in. During Setsubun, each person also eats a number of beans equal in number to his or her age. In recent years, people in Japan have begun using peanuts instead of Soybeans for this part of the holiday festivities. Supermarkets, however, still stock both peanuts and more traditional soybeans for this purpose."
Am I forgiven?

I included this darker version sos that Justin's crazy genki face could be internet-ally immortalized.
And then, once more.
My vacation roomie and sight-seeing buddy, Grace is modeling the Gangsta pose. The trees are covered in electric blankets. Just kidding, it's straw.
I can't remember whether it was Natasha or Locky who verbally captioned this photo as a great Gap ad. Colorful, happy, without forgetting to capture the mix of nationalities. I believe I'm laughing at Grace's insistance that her arms are disproportionally long, as she proves it by snapping a successful photo.
If this were a video, you'd see me making these legs dance like Chaplin.
We went for all-you-can-eat delicious crab, sushi, tempura and crab pudding soup. We made a bit of a spectacle of ourselves in the following ways: playing with our food, and re-enacting a Ghenghis Khan dinnerparty. We cracked our crab as fast as we could as to get our all-you-can eat monies worth. You should have seen the way were beckoning for the waitors to give us attention. Ahhhh, good times.
Parry's strategy on AYCE crab, is to go on a cracking spree and make large piles, and then shove it all in yr mouth with butter. Jackie, his partner in crime, would guard his piles of crab while he went to the bathroom. And just one more thing about Jackie. On this night, she saved my life. On the way back to the hotel, as we were running to cross the street before the light changed, i managed to slip on some ice. In trying to quickly regain my footing, i continued to fall. The light had changed and the car in front of me was expressing its reluctancy to wait for me by revving its engine. While trying to decided whether I should just crawl to the curb, Jackie came to my rescue and helped me up. Just thought i'd give her some props for her bravery, and give anti-props to the rest of the kids who stood there and laughed at me. Ahhh, ya.....