Tag Archives: pittsburgh

Good luck team with the sporting match

Instead of watching the Super Bowl last night, on Sunday, which most people do but would have been impossible for me unless I had the ability to jump through time to today, record it, and bring it back to the past, I spent the evening at a little restaurant on an upper floor of a featureless building downtown, flanked by Jessy and six friends, dining on 150-yen skewers of roasted lamb, cooked by a man in the hallway operating a grill, and rolled in spices, washed down with hot Chinese wine, sugar, and pickled plum. Somewhat similarly to a dining experience I had just a week ago–though not anatomically similarly–during which we dined on the horumon of pig (offal, for us English speakers, consisting of raw, cold liver, grilled stomach, jaw, heart, cartilage, head, and others), I shovel heap after heap of rice into my mouth, coated with the spicy juices of the lamb chunks, collagen and muscle melting away like thicker, richer roast beef, and wonder how the night could get any better. The answer of course is: if the Super Bowl was on a television next to me.

Have you heard of the Super Bowl? Men in various kinds of gear strategize on how to attack with and defend from the advances of a pointy brown oval, while millions gather to witness this event on television as though a rabid massing of tribesmen.

Me being in Japan means of course that essentially concurrent with the composition of these words plays out the very game of which I speak: Japan is fourteen hours ahead of east coast time, which means that about when whoever is kicking off kicks off, I’ll be talking to Japanese teenagers about their final composition project, for which they need to invent and advertise some imaginary product in English (my demonstration was an impassioned treatise for “Super Moon Boots,” which allow you to jump 50 meters in the air but offer no solution for landing from a height of 50 meters). To be sure, the stakes here are not quite as high as those for Mr. Roethlisberger and Mr. Rodgers. The point is that I don’t want to know what is happening in the foot-ball game, so I have to stay away from interfaces that might allow me somehow to defy my true wishes and contact the outside world: my phone, Facebook, Google Reader, e-mail–all are beasty creatures which want to spoil the game for me like Snape Kills Dumbledore: “Pittsburgh 24 Green Bay 13!” (my official prediction, to be mocked later).

I’m meeting someone and going somewhere to see the event itself tonight, via tape-delay at 7:00, recorded and preserved like a time capsule, Super Bowl Sunday mysteriously transmogrified into Super Bowl Monday. Watching a recording of an event that I believe to be occurring presently promises to be a sublime experience, akin to looking at old pictures of your parents aware that you are now older than they were in the photographs, drinking a beer before work at 7:30 in the morning, or watching your students try to grasp the mysteries of the Slinky, a toy they have never before played with. At best, whatever the situation, I will find myself magically returned to Pittsburgh, surrounded by psychosis and rabid fans. At worst, it will be what I expect.

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By means of steam one can go from California to Japan in eighteen days

Firmly into the first week of summer’s taskless days of work, tonight is exam night at school, which sets my schedule for me. You have undoubtedly read it here before, whether you remember it or not: sit at the desk for a long time. Take a couple five minute breaks to go read something to the class, then come back, then sit around for a little while, then go home. Today I have written this, eaten a half a sandwich and a small hamburger, drank a Blizzard-L soda, and started reading Jurassic Park. My row is the one with the air conditioner, and I’m almost cold! When I get home tonight, I’m cooking some chicken and buttered peppery corn. Life is good, cause I say it is. Even though outside it feels like you are covered with a wet towel in the jungle.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if it is time to retire the curious Japanese shit of the week section of my weekly entries here and replace it with a “things which probably used to seem weird but that I can no longer differentiate as such” section. For example:

-Right now there is a man squatting down on the ground in front of the office refrigerator–in much the same way a resident of this country would squat to take a dump in an old-fashioned toilet–drinking milk tea straight out of the carton. This is basically fine with me.
-Last week I ate a “choco cookie” ice cream sundae at an ice cream cafe, and it contained yogurt and corn flakes.
-Later in the week I went to a “darts bar” (this is a bar based on the gimmick of playing darts) to play darts, and the bar had a cover charge for staying there past 9 PM, which they did not mention until we were paying our bill as we left (the cover charge included a free dish of crackers and nuts).
-Just the other night, I watched part of a show on TV where a group of eight people stayed at a restaurant for over fourteen hours, with the goal of guessing which 10 of the 86 items on the menu were the restaurant’s top sellers, and in order to file an item as a guess, they had to first order and eat it.
-About an hour ago, I was cut off on my walking path to work by a remarkably sized turtle, on whose shell was painted in white the telephone number of some salesman.

Does this kind of shit happen back home? I feel like it may, in some sort of waking hallucinated nightmare, but I can barely even goddamned remember anymore. I know the TV was a lot less consistently entertaining, and I don’t remember any turtles.

I wonder occasionally what my Pittsburgh life would have been like if we actually lived in a place like Kobe, with essentially limitless entertainment, drinking, and dining options–a place where our late-night post-bar food choices may have rested outside the realm of “Laffy Taffys from the Uni-Mart.” Every time I try to let it play out all I can see is destruction: handfuls of breaded, spicy chicken, video games, mayhem, cheap liquor, public intoxication. Basically the same as Pittsburgh. But it wouldn’t have been exactly the same.

In fact, life here in Japan was really different and strange until it just wasn’t as different and strange, which is becoming a bit strange itself. This all manifests itself in a variety of ways. About five months ago I finally got the most efficient route home from work down. That cut what I used to perceive as a 50 or 60 minute trip from office chair to apartment couch down to precisely 38 minutes, if I seriously haul it through the station to the gates for my island. It seems fine to me that I now can estimate my trip times to the minute, and do not in the slightest ever consider the fact that the trains might be late, because they aren’t. I now pay phone bills with my fiberoptic rolled into the current plan for maximum savings. I am okay with the fact that I pay my bills by taking them to the convenience store. I renew my transportation passes without incident, with cash, by sliding upwards of three hundred dollars at a time into a vending machine. Again, this is no problem.

We schedule packages for redelivery by phone, and order pizzas, books, playing cards, and trinkets over the Internet. Often times the men bring the things we’ve bought to the door, and we pay them for them right there. We juggle point cards like professionals, transfer money home at the best exchange rates through bank transfers on the ATM, and even know the best routes to a variety of restaurants we have learned to call our favorites, depending on the desired cuisine. I can pinpoint the locations of at least eight video game stores within easy walking distance of Sannomiya station. I can cook gyoza like Emeril Lagasse, and I don’t even need to say BAM while I do it. I own and carry more things that are electronic and magnetic than things that aren’t.

And still there are some things: what is this random mysterious package of pickled food items for and in what meal context am I supposed to use it? How do I reserve a bowling lane at the Round 1 game center? How and why are FUNKY MONKEY BABYS still performing the same song on TV that they were last August? Why are there so many Pachinko parlors? What the hell is the deal with this variety show talent person who dresses like a school girl with her eyebrows shaved off and replaced with huge ridiculous fake ones, and is she actually a man cause I think she might be?

ON SUNDAY SOME MEN ARE BRINGING A BOOK SHELF TO OUR APARTMENT THAT WE BOUGHT ON A WEBSITE
It’s true.
HOW ABOUT THAT

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Off to Iowa: the ordeal begins

With this suitcase I will take two buses from my apartment to the Pittsburgh International Airport, then two planes from there until I arrive in Des Moines.  This is the unofficial beginning of the end: my time left in the US is now short enough to be comprehended tangibly, my remaining items-to-accomplish clear, the final monetary situations and storage of goods established.

I’ve been mentally preparing myself for this series of adventures so explicitly over the last several months that surprisingly I don’t even feel too anxious, which is a change of pace.  Instinctively however my brain really wants to be worried, because that’s what it’s most used to.  “Shouldn’t I be really uncomfortable?”  The upcoming events seem now less like semester-end essays and more like going to work: something I simply must do, damn the torpedoes.

I’ll be spending a week there that will be kicked off by a drunken evening with siblings and pals, and followed up the next noon by lunch at my most favorite restaurant in the entire world, Thai Kitchen.  To say that this is one of my most anticipated future-highlights of this trip is an understatement, shamefully: shouldn’t I be more excited about seeing my friends and family?  Of course I am, but they exist on a different plane.  Pad Thai is a sensory enhancement, a new form of awareness!  Family is Important, but you cannot chew them.

With this I begin to pack the laptop bag and prepare for the trek to the airport.  Watch the Twitter feed over there –>
for continued updates!  Bon voyage, Nomaday faithful!

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