Monthly Archives: November 2010

Break me off a piece of that

Now I chew on a Kit Kat “BIG LITTLE,” the name of a snack which happens to be a bite-sized chocolate ball version of “Big Kat,” itself a large version of Kit Kat. I just finished a stick of spicy string cheese, and I have a chestnut-flavored cola in front of me. Life should be good, shouldn’t it? As it happens, for many of you one of these days around now is Thanksgiving Day. Unlike last year I don’t even know which one it is, and will likely not concern myself with finding out. If it’s today, that means my Thanksgiving dinner is BIG LITTLE, and if it’s tomorrow, much like in 2009, my meal will be government-subsidized rice gloop with a plate of what is probably squid rings in semi-flavorless water (I am, as always, totally serious, only no, really). I have a theory that it is indeed tomorrow, because several people will be having a delicious feast at a scrumptious multi-course Brazilian meat restaurant. I of course will not be attending because it is “at night,” and every night I have is totally destroyed by Japanese class, work, or immediately falling asleep due to exhaustion (to be fair though, at least one night a week is spent drinking myself stupid).

The advantages of celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S. are many. Football games on television, big steaming pots of noodles, tender roasted turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pies, some beer, the weekend and change off, time for video games. But there are some advantages of not being in the States for the second Thanksgiving in a row. Oh wait no there aren’t.

We have been getting to know our new refrigerator like any sensible people would: by spending hundreds of dollars on bulky items that wouldn’t have any chance of finding space in our old one. Just the other day I baked some gratin potatoes in a casserole dish and then, with but a couple of spoonfuls left in the bowl, put plastic wrap on it and plugged it into the fridge for later consumption. Our bottom drawer, a crisper/cooler of most gracious space, currently harbors no less than two bottles of wine and a (to us) “jumbo” sized PET bottle of Coke, clocking in at two massive liters. We have shelves of vegetables, a door packed with dairy products, and a discrete freezer devoted entirely to fruit and ice cream. Even our cat could comfortably reside in the refrigerator, for a little while at most.

The precipitous changes that have occured around the place are due in no small part to the arrival of this behemoth: to ensure the continued functionality of our microwave/oven/toaster unit, which previously resided on the fridge (now much too tall to allow the ‘wave’s cords to reach the outlet) we have needed to shuffle various shelves around from the entryway to kitchen. In our lust for continued change, Jessy even got us a small Christmas tree, which is most totally a real tree, despite the fact that both of us will be out of the country from mid-December to early January, and will have no occasion to do anything exciting with the tree except smell it (it smells good). It is also the cat’s new favorite thing to crash into, sending needles all over the floor. Despite having his own bowl of water, Kiki now drinks exclusively from the tree’s stand. The Damned Thing is decorated extravagantly, with two, yard-long strings of LED lights, each powered by its own battery pack, because we live in Japan and things like this make sense. For example, the other day we started watching a Japanese animated series called “Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt,” which is about two dysfunctional girls who have to kill ghosts so they can get back into heaven. Panty’s panties transform into a gun, and Stocking’s stockings transform into a sword. In the first episode, they destroyed a monster literally composed of feces, who was eating people through their toilets. This is why Christmas lights are expensive.

LIVIN’ IN JA-PAN-I-CA
eye to eye, station to station

– Made tacos last night, they felt exotic
– North Korea’s gettin’ crazy, hope they leave me alone
– Teachin’ late tonight, comin’ in an hour later next week
– Playin’ Black Ops on PS3, knifin’ dudes thousands of miles away
– Used to bowing in public, gonna look dumb in the U.S.
– Went grillin’ on Sunday, next to “no barbecue” sign
– Read this book called The Housekeeper and the Professor, it’s about math
– Things get more normal every day

LIVIN’ IN JA-PAN-I-CA
i feel Good

There are some days, when I’m busy or tired or happen to feel a particular way, that all I want to do is sit at a table with a beer and some music and a Scrabble board and play against myself for hours, seven letters at a time.

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Beneath the wool

Today I had the displeasure of paying a man 10,500 yen (the cost of one hundred individual goods at the 100-yen shop, plus tax) to come to my apartment on my morning off with an enormous tool that looked kind of like a machine that you might use to give a robot an enema.

I don’t own any automata but he definitely reamed something other than my wallet: our shower room’s drainpipe, which clogged Monday night and flooded the kit and kaboodle while Jessy tried to do laundry. The only physical good I have been left with as a result of this monetary exchange is a sizable, tightly woven wad of assorted hair which now rests in peace inside a vacated tissue box planted firmly in the garbage can. After removal, the man gestured to it sitting on the shower’s tile as though it was either a cancerous blob or some sort of holy implement; I’m not sure, I don’t know the vocabulary for what he actually referred to it as. I am sure at least that since it was mine it became my “honorable disgusting wad of gross crap,” at least. I cannot recall the specifics. Anyway, though I am missing out on the boatload full of potential 100-yen items, I can now bathe myself and wash clothes, which has to count for something.

Last year’s Nomaday from this very Wednesday in 2009 reads like an eerie parallel of the current situation. To excerpt: I am again waiting to receive this year’s [i]Call of Duty[/i] shooty-game in the mail, I’m attending the Japan Games Festa in Osaka this weekend, I’m really looking forward to payday next Tuesday, and it’s my birthday today. I am not doing anything too special, unless special includes paying a man to dig hair out of my plumbing.

In other news I’m happy to report that the weather is really starting to cool off, and it’s no longer an incredible, shitty pain in the ass to go on trips.

How about the cat? He is as cat-like as ever, routinely lying around, sleeping, headbutting hands and legs, lunging mysteriously at toys that he is suddenly frightened by, attacking every rug in the house, and meowing for no reason. When the bathroom was flooded the other day he hopped in, then freaked out and leapt three feet in the air. Sometimes I pick him up off the ground and hold him like a baby to see how long he can go before he tries to squirm his way out. He lasts longer each time, and before long I’ll be twirling him above my head.

I am happy to report that although I am not participating in this fool’s errand you may have heard of called “national novel writing month,” I have indeed been doing some meaningful work on my novel over the last few weeks, albeit slightly limited in word count. At any rate, I am pleased with its quality. Perhaps it is because I routinely compose 2,000+ word articles over at N-Sider or in this very journal that I am not compelled or content to write simply to produce strings of letters, though for every man who has that super exciting Ninjas vs. Cast of Glee fanfiction epic bubbling up inside them I am sure this communal opportunity for shared busywork is a godsend.

Anyway, I just couldn’t leave you sitting here any longer without at least something in you, precious journal. You looked old and dead and that was creepy. So here you go, right on schedule, three weeks back. Maybe I will find some other, better time to use on the story-writing, because by gosh I missed you.

IN JAPAN
– Pepsi released their new “Mont Blanc” special-edition cola last week, and though they claim it tastes like chestnuts what it really tastes like is a cross between Vanilla Pepsi and the maligned Coke Blak–a delightful combination of sweetness and coffee. It is slammin’. Other new product? Pizza Margherita Cup Noodle, which tastes more like pizza than several actual Japanese pizzas I have eaten
– That Russell Crowe movie Robin Hood, which came out in the States some months ago, finally releases in Japan some time in December. In honor of its impending release, we downloaded the uncut high-definition version from the Internet and watched it at home
– I’ll be going back to America for the holidays in approximately five weeks, and I’ve already bought the ticket. I reserved it on the internet, grabbed a confirmation code from an e-mail, went to a Lawson convenience store, used their special terminal to print out a payment slip, then took it to the cash register and bought my ticket by slapping down well over a thousand bucks, in cash. She didn’t act like it was a big deal
– Japan and China kinda hate each other right now, because everyone seems pretty focused on fighting over a bunch of dumb shit like someone’s boat running into someone else’s boat. I think Japan is forgetting the good things about China: they invented fried rice, and some other stuff
– Still learning and studying Japanese, at a bit of a deliberate pace. Even at two nights a week I am stripped of virtually all my weeknight free-time, and despite my time investment just last week I finally learned how to say that I want something. It’s hard to say how much longer it will take, but before long I anticipate moving from the level of cerebrally-challenged carrot to that of slightly-stilted squash
– Street Fighter IV is more and more a Japanese game as I continue to play it: your performance is attributable solely to you and dependent on no other factors outside of your opponent. This game still incites stronger feelings of accomplishment and self-hatred than virtually any other game I have ever played, which is kind of reflective of the Japanese spirit in general
NAPAJ NI

We’re getting a new refrigerator triple the capacity of our current one next week, which is a concession I made to Jessy despite my desire to return to simpler times when we had less stuff. As a sort of compensatory event we have agreed to at least rid ourselves of the old, tiny fridge, and perhaps trade the desk for some open space. Still, despite the additional space gobbled up and the expense, I am having a hard time not being excited about the fact that I’ll be able to keep more than two beers in the refrigerator, and I’ll be able to buy huge packages of meat from Costco and keep them in (one of!) the freezer(s). The damned thing even has a fourteen-space egg tray! In addition to the fridge on top and the two freezer drawers on the bottom, the very very bottom is a vegetable crisper drawer, an impossible luxury. The idea that I might be able to preserve a quantity of food significant enough that I need not visit the grocery store four times a week is liberating and shocking, and soon I will understand what it means to live in this bold new year, 1968.

I think part of my apprehensiveness to getting more things is knowing that as usual I am still transient. Though physically I now settle into a comfortable sort of established life in Japan, the fact that I’ve become increasingly aware that my time is limited causes me to revolt against the idea of being comfortable. Part of me says that’s what life is, always coursing on with the possibility that any day could be your last one in any certain place for whatever reason, and the other part says for the same reason, why not get comfortable? I think it might become a little different once the prospect of moving does not involve sending everything I own 6000 miles across the ocean.

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