I have harbored our new cat Kiki for the last four days now, but if you entered the apartment you’d be hard-pressed to believe me if I told you (were it not for the litter tray and dishes of food, which let’s be honest, I could be using myself). You see, the cat is in my home, but he lives so mysteriously! Like a sun-allergic breakfast sausage he spends the entirety of my waking hours tucked into the empty, cloth-covered space behind the couch, unreachable, invisible, uncoaxable, unresponsive to everything. To that end, following in the footsteps tread by the best footage suppliers of America’s Most Horrifying Security Camera Videos, I have today engineered my computer to act as a motion-detecting video recorder, trained on the main area of the living room in an effort to monitor this secretive beast while I am out humpin’ for yen as a tool of the Japanese public school system.
I’m not sure what I expect to see when I get back home and Go To The Tape. The only things routinely disturbed are the handful of anemic flowers which sit inside a ceramic vase on the table, and they’re not even so damaged, just knocked around, a single joint in the stem of each flower. Will I see him nuzzling the television? Rearranging all the furniture with his head then pushing it back to normal two hours later? I left a small, catnip-stuffed squishy mouse in direct view of the all-seeing eye in an effort to coax him into providing entertaining viewing, but am unsure if my efforts will yield watchable television.
Kiki must be so proud of his considerate handiwork. He seems to be an exceptionally harmless cat–he hasn’t broken anything or torn anything apart or bitten or scratched us during his secretive night-time exercises. Even when I ruined myself in his eyes forever by trying to yank him out of the couch and move him to a smaller room for his own comfort, he never once attacked or yowled or bit, just slunk further into the couch. He has begun recently to start acknowledging his strange new self-contradictory thought processes, which we figure go something like this:
“I am a cat, and my situation is very new and frightening, but I crave the love and attention of the two humans who inhabit this weird place! I will leave my safe and cozy tunnel now, and perhaps I will watch them sleep, meowing just outside the entrance to their bedroom as though I desire contact, but then THEY SAW ME OHSHITOHSHITOHSHITOHSHIIIIIIIIIIohshit”
The crux of the situation is that the cat eats, drinks, sleeps, and uses the litter box routinely, just not during any time when we are in view. He occasionally lets out a few tiny squeakmeows, presumably to say either “what the fuck where am I” or to verify whether we are or are not around by listening for a response to his yip. Caught between fear and desire, we figure it will just be a matter of time before the mere sight of us does not cause him to arch his back like the McDonald’s logo. I suppose the real question is whether the duration of that period will be a few more days, weeks, or months. I want to tell him “we do not want to hurt you, and in fact want to love you,” but I am having a hard time translating that into cat.
BONUS: security cam footage of the cat jumping on the table from today since I just got back home!
Oh god, have I become one of those people who talks about their cat all the time? I assure you it is only because my life is devoid of more exciting tropes at the moment. Close runner-up: classes are back in session, and I’ve already taught ten of them with two more on the way and it’s like I never left. In my English Speaking Society yesterday (a smallish club populated with two first-year girls and a boy), we were having a conversation about winter in Iowa, and then they asked me if I ever “burned marshmallows” before, and then I proceeded to tell them about S’mores (the word is short for “some more,” I explained, because they are delicious, and you always want some more of them). Being presented with the concept of the graham cracker seemed to be an Earth-shaking, revelatory experience for them.
“The graham cracker is a cracker, made with honey,” I tell them. They ask me “is it a biscuit?” “Well, no.”
In conclusion, we will be using the English Speaking Society’s meeting time to make S’mores at some point in the near future, once I figure out how to get big marshmallows and graham crackers in Japan.
All that most people in Japan seem capable of talking about right now is the summer and its associated phenomena: “it’s hot,” “it sure is hot,” “this is a very hot time,” “it is not a cool day,” and so on. It makes for a thoroughly boring societal experience, bombarded by uncomfortable, humid weather, unpopulated with any sort of seasonal festivities, and lacking the refreshing charm of a season that has now been dragging on for well over three months. The one thing we did have in August was a thing called Bon, a time period distinctly uninteresting to foreign people, during which the people of this country recognize the deceased family members they have known in the past. Their spirits return to the world and then leave it again. I personally am more fond of cherry blossom season, where you celebrate by sitting outside in “some shady” by a tree, looking at the tree, and drinking beer. Yes, I hate the summer. When will it be October? Oh, in about a month. Something in my life doesn’t seem as refreshing as it used to be, and I am blaming the summer and the fact that leaving my balcony door open would be like running a garden hose in the living room right now. It is the air, the air, the air. It’s gotta be! Maybe it is something else.
AND NOW, A BRIEF ASIDE DEALING WITH MY OBVIOUSLY DEPLORABLE CONDUCT IN THE SOCIAL COMPANY OF OTHERS
Oh hi! The other day Jessy and I went to a little party on the island with some new people on the program and it was pretty fun. I drank some gin and colas and listened to some relaxed and nice people talk about Dungeons and Dragons, whisky, the Sega Saturn, and other excellent things. Then on our way home while we were talking to a nice couple who taste wine as a hobby and play Jazz music together and who made couscous and ordered a piano or something, I made the mistake of asking Jessy about a facet of her “special” school, a topic which she brought up! Here is a representation of the conversation:
Jessy: “In my nakayoshi school (translator’s note: nakayoshi means “special friend”) the kids got injured while they were trying to make a human pyramid!”
Me, somewhat quietly, directly to Jessy, in total deadpan: “Retarded pyramids?”
The other couple, non-verbally, apparently, cause Jessy told me about this since I didn’t actually look at them since I was not considering their reaction to my stupid joke: Total mouth-agape shock
Other non-American friend, in damage-control mode: “Did you know Americans still use the word ‘retard’ seriously? It’s true!”
Me, American: “I had no idea.”
Mosquito: Bites me
Jessy, later: “Brandon you asshole!”
But I do not mean to blame the victim-couple for having no sense of humor, or even for being from another country with vastly different political-correctness sensibilities (they elected a woman as Prime Minister, after all). In fact, the wife of the couple laughed at one of my jokes earlier (it was funnier than the word retard, and I cannot remember it). One time a while ago they visited our house to comment on the overbearing sweetness in a bottle of eight-dollar peach wine that Jessy bought and invited them over to try, because they like to taste their liquor. I thought that was pretty funny! (At the recent party, Jessy tasted “pretzels and licorice” in one of the wines, but I am not sure if those are valid wine-taster tastes to notice.) Anyway at that time I did a horrible thing by inviting them to the living room to play Mario with me and Brenden, then they got bored, and so I am a bad person because we kept playing Mario even though they were bored. I went from being a good host to being a jerk so easily! Should I too have attempted to detect pretzels and licorice?
I guess what I am wondering is, is it worth the effort to make friends? Or should I just spend time with people who are naturally disposed to being friends with me with as little bullshit involved as possible? Oh, what am I talking about, anyway!
I had better watch out what I say in here, this might end up like that time when I was drunk and I told someone at a party that I “couldn’t stand 95% of the people in this room” and some people overheard it and actually believed I was talking to them instead of the person I was talking to and then held unreasonable silent grudges against me until they actually talked to me and discovered I do not actually warrantlessly hate all people and that alcohol changes my demeanor from “says very little” to “will say dumb shit.” Besides, there were only like fourteen people in the room, it’s impossible to hate everyone and then just a fraction of someone else.
So, couple-who-I-said-retard-in-front-of, if you ever read this, please know that I did not intend to mine your political sensitivities and deliver a precision ‘tard strike in your vicinity. (I meant not to mention the word “retards” again and make another senseless joke at the hands of the impaired, but censoring myself in text is one of my handicaps and going back through to edit my personal journal is kind of mentally challenging)
I mean, the people who write all those offensive jokes for comedy shows are probably pretty nice people, right? You guys seem pretty nice too, and I also think it is nice of you to taste things in wine, cause all I can taste in Japanese beer is piss, and I stopped looking for it after a while. You guys should come over for some Scrabble, I will even accept Australian spellings! Also I am not a horrible person, honest! Well maybe a little horrible. I guess what I am asking is, do you hate me? I know what it’s like to hate, because after all it has come to my attention that I hate 95% of all people (but don’t worry, there are lots of persons with notable mental disadvantages in that other 5%, especially Jessica, with whom I live for christsakes).
THIS HAS BEEN A BRIEF ASIDE DEALING WITH MY OBVIOUSLY DEPLORABLE CONDUCT IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS
More excitement this week: I didn’t get my application in lightning-fast enough this semester to get a spot in the impossibly popular (and free) Hyogo Japanese language classes, the first section of which I finished in June. This guarantees there will be plenty of spots for real achievers like the couple guys I had class with last time, who have lived in Japan for five years, are still speaking at an introductory level, and who have failed the last three times they have taken it, mostly because despite getting a spot they never actually go to the class. Anyone know a place I can take some lessons and learn at a good clip (need not be free)? Full details please, responses akin to “I know a guy who gives me lessons out of his basement for a hundred yen a month and he cooks me free curry and taught me how to massage my prostate with an ancient artisan calligraphy brush but he’s all booked up and no you can’t have his number lol” will be summarily the cause of me saying “I hate you a lot” and erasing you from my world (assuming you are already in it).
TINY STUPID CRAP OF LATELY
– Months after its release I finally got around to buying Bayonetta for my PS3 (you can read some impressions I wrote based on the E3 demo more than a year ago over at N-Sider by clicking this link). I bought the new edition, which has a cool reversible cover, and inside the case rests a fun game, and it’s fun partially because you can bite demons in half with your evil hair, which is also your clothing, yes I am saying your hair is your clothes in this game
– I have finally woken to the pleasure of Google Reader, an RSS management service that lets you read all the updates from your favorite sites in a handy aggregated list, and I bet that if you are the kind of guy or gal that is used to checking many different websites often and wants a faster way to see what’s new you’d really enjoy it, and also my site has an RSS feed so you can add it to be sure you never miss a gripping update
– The money exchange rate for the dollar is down to 1 USD = 84.84 yen, which means if you were planning on buying/importing stuff from Japan any time soon it just got more expensive for you to do it and which also means since the 23rd of August I’ve gotten a thousand dollar increase to my yearly salary which is mostly useless since all I do with US dollars is pay off the education loanwhores
– The Tsukimi (moon-viewing) Burger is back (back from where?) at McDonald’s, completing a yearly cycle that I wrote about last year, and making that two McDonald’s mentions in this very entry
– In the last week I have conned Jessy into watching Judge Dredd, Demolition Man, and True Lies, three movies she would never agree to see normally, and the latter two of which she really liked, further evidence that Judge Dredd is just no good no matter how bad you want it to be
– If someone tells you that you are eating a BLT sandwich in Japan and they hand you the sandwich, you know that they are liars, because what they call a BLT is not a BLT at all, but I eat them anyway and trick myself into believing they are
– I wonder what the cat is doing right now don’t you
GOOD THING I HAVE A SPYCAM TRAINED ON HIM AHAHAHAH!!!!! aha
Last week I for some reason agreed to go to Costco with Jessy tomorrow. If you have been reading Nomaday since May you know how I feel about Costco in Japan (summary: it is a outlaw ranch/family amusement park). I do not want to go, but perhaps I will be able to secure a few 24 packs of contraband American soda–a fine reward for braving the hellish gauntlet of culturally shocking warehouse shopping.
What can Jessy possibly want to purchase? Knowing her, cleaning supplies and nothing else. Maybe I will beg for another five pound bag of gummy bears. Maybe I will buy five more webcams, and wire the entire apartment to record the harrowing and mesmerizing adventures of Kiki, the scaredy-cat who watches me while I sleep. Maybe I will sit in the parking lot, gripping my knees, and rock back and forth, shrieking until the moon comes out (and then I will view it). When the employees ask me if I am okay, I will climb them like a jungle gym and defecate explosively, launching myself into space, where it is not summer, and where I love 95% of all people, and where my cat plays the keyboard and unlocks the mysteries of the universe.