Friday, December 24, 2010

Hawaii 5-0 baby!




Ok, well I thought that since I'm leaving the land of rice tomorrow, I may as well post of the wonderful things I have done, and unfortunately, seen in the past few weeks...

First of all - I know that I've talked about earthquakes in the past - not a very scary thing anymore...they are kinda like hitting bumps on your bicycle - no one seems to notice unless you want to...They are pretty frequent and I feel as though I have become pretty aware of any shaking, hitting the floor or diving for the nearest door frame - it's kinda funny in class since I'm the only one who still starts sweating when the rooms starts vibrating...

I have no idea why there are any unemployed people in japan - there seems to be a job for everyone for every little thing! Seriously, if there is a pot hole, no doubt - there will be a man in a reflective vest holding a Star Wars light saber waving people around it. It's very helpful, but if just makes he so confused why there are so many unemployed young people - I think they are following the mentality of the lazy american and not wanting to join in the working party...

Now, its pretty cold here in Japan - the exact opposite of the summer when I melted like the wicked witch of the west. The cold burns here...it's piercing. One thing Japanese haven't figure out yet in their whole technology endeavor is how to use the fricking thermostat. If it's not frigid int he shops, it's burning like a pottery kiln!

The awful fur trend is still in full force here - and you literally cannot get away from it. The leg warmers, the earrings, the purses and the shawls made out of millions of little bunny butts! I think the worst is when a girl decides to deck herself out with a white fur vest, white furry leg warmers, white stilettos, a short mini shirts and then tops it off with white furry ear muffs - she looks like the slutty sister of the Ice queen from Narnia...Someone needs to do a PSA immediately and save this country!!!

Let's explore two holidays quickly - Thanksgiving and Christmas..

Christmas is upon us and it's a time to enjoy family and friends - and apparently in Japan KFC! All my students have their reservations at KFC for their chicken dinner and are super pumped for it - I actually laughed out loud at one of my students - but the worst part is they think that's actually what Americans eat on Christmas! We have become a society of fat ass, fast food eating lazy boogers - and its translating to other cultures - this is sad - someone call Obama and get a press conference in the works! Presents aren't popular - but they are for forgin teachers - I've been given lots of gifts thus far - mostly food since they don't know what to give - but it's great!
So, the good thing about Xmas - besides the presents and what not - the the fact that there the a infamous Ugly Sweater party - and we did it up right in Tokyo this year. Some of us switched names and made our own since, surprisingly, there aren't very many options of ugly xmas sweaters to choose from in the bargain bin in Kasukabe...We hit up the town in full force with 10 people in tow - ranging from regular sweaters to a strand of lights connected to a real car battery in a backpack with a fully functional car horn...We had a great night on our 12 bars of Christmas bar crawl all over the city - walking and laughing - and the best part was most people thought our sweaters were cute....lol - aww you silly japanese fashion rejects! Definitely a night where people were pointing saying - check out those crazy foreigners - and we owned it!!

Let's talk turkey for a second. I had the worst Thanksgiving I've ever been apart of, but I couldn't help but laugh the whole time for the sincere effort made. We had talked with a local bar about making turkey - well when we showed up on Turkey day, there was a giant indian stove making naan bread - our first red flag, since last time I checked naan bread isn't a staple in turkey day. We then saw them pull out these sad little pathetic excuses for fowl from the oven. Thinking they were turkey, we dug in - only to find out they were actually curry spiced chickens! They didn't even have the turkey! So, instead we ate our feelings worth of chicken curry broth, tandoori chunks of mini chicken and naan. I think the beer was the most gratifying part o the whole meal...but we did appreciate the acknowledgement of our national holiday in a different country and the attempt to make it for us foreigners.

On a funny last note - Erin and I decided to take part in the 80's night put on by one of the bigger event groups in the Tokyo area. We have RSVP'd and gone to Don Quixotes for our outrageous costumes. We were totally pumped to rock out in true 80's style - Cyndi Lauper would have been proud of what we found - our inspiration ranged from flashdance to Cher....
Well, we got all gussied up and took the last train down to Roppongi and we decided to have a few road sodas on the way down, so we were feeling ready to peacock it out on the dance floor. We after my spidey sense found the place, we oddly didn't see anyone else around in crazy outfits, though we were a little late, we assumed we'd hear the crazy drunk americans and flow the trail. We instead, we got the entrance only to find that it was closed - with no explanation! We go no email telling everyone that the party was canceled! Well Erin and I had 2 options - buy an outfit and stumble around Roppongi for the next five hours and wait of the first train or own it in al our ugly outfit glory and rock out like true 80's rock stars - clearly the latter was the option chosen and we had the best night - everyone loved our style and wanted pics! It was a stellar night - we totally turned lemons into lemoncello!

Well I'm out and off to Hawaii - will post pics of all the crazy trouble I'm about to get into! Aloha bitches!!




Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm dreamin' of a deep fried Christmas...?



Well it's that time of year when usually store windows are plastered with pictures of Holiday classics - Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Thanksgiving Turkeys and snowmen....well in Tokyo, it's a little different. Not only are all the decorations up and sparkling, but they have been up since before Halloween! The holiday Starbucks cups were even out!
It's exciting to see all these people with crazy holiday fever, but let's take on one holiday at a time...
We have managed to persuade one of our local bars that we are patrons of to make a Thanksgiving feast - complete with an actual turkey! I'm so excited - I offered to help, since I miss cooking so much, and I think I will get to get my hands dirty in the prep for the dinner!
Well the funny thing about Xmas in Tokyo is that compared to the US, it's not a big holiday. Stores are open, trains run like normal every still eats rice...well that's not entirely true - on Christmas here in Tokyo, it has become a tradition to eat KFC for dinner with the family. I'm absolutely serious - people make reservations to pick up their KFC family packs on Christmas day and enjoy deep fried, greasy protein sticks accompanies by soggy coleslaw and lumpy mashers - all in the name of the "favorite American Holiday" Christmas - plus the funny part is that's what they think we all eat on Christmas and they dress up the mascot for KFC in a santa outfit - ooh the skewed views of translating holiday tradition to another culture is hysterical!

Don't buy moisturizer in Japan unless you like the look of the dearly departed Michael Jackson - they all have bleachings agents in them. I kept seeing this weird symbol on the containers of moisturizers and I thought I was lookin at the toothpaste aisle with all the whitening references. Good thing I didn't use that to brush my teeth - though maybe it would have been a cheaper alternative to the over priced Crest strips...

The winters here are pretty crisp and refreshing - if your an Emperor penguin! They don't believe in insulation in this country, so none of the walls retain any heat - in fact, they seem to suck more cold into the homes and offices here! I literally have to bundle up when I go from my room to my computer - and I love it cold normally...
They are expecting snow this year since it's been such a weird weather the past few seasons - which would probably explain why everyone has loading up on fur accessories...These fashion flubs have hit the ground running here...It's like people want to look like a forest creatures. They actually have fox tails hanging from belt loops or purses - I have yet to figure out the appeal of these things...Um, excuse me - There's a dead animal hanging from your cell phone...
Most all of the jackets have fur somewhere on them, the carry all bags are dripping with rabbit tails and even shoes have fur balls dangling from the heels...PETA would have an aneurism!

Oh, btw - you know how none of us have AC in Seattle - well in Tokyo you need one, which was a god send this summer cause it was so scorching hot! Well once the weather turned chilly - I was frantically searching around my apartment for any type of heating source that would keep my toes from falling off - only to find that there wasn't anything here! I was so confused how the last teacher was able to keep from inflicting hypothermia to herself. Well, I gave in and had to ask my students how they keep warm in the winter - most told me that they buy these big over stuffed heating blankets that they sleep in - or they just turn on the heater - that is built into the AC unit!!! Eureka - I found it! I'm not longer darting around my apartment with snotsicicles..


Let me tell you all about the exciting Halloween adventure that I had here in Tokyo...
In the US, Halloween is a holiday where basically anything goes - boys can be girls, girls and be hookers and I can be tragically stuck in between both options...but nonetheless - it's my favorite holiday!
Well Tokyo has yet to jump onto that bandwagon - which is so unfortunate. Some of the children dressed up at school, but most just stared...a few cried when Matthew, my coworker, showed up with a variety of different masks. There's nothing like the shrill, ear piercing scream of that child totally freaked out by a 6 foot 5 man in a gorilla mask lunging at you. I think I peed my pants a little the first time I saw him too and I'm a grown ass man - I'm afraid of masks, thanks to the movie It..
Well for my costume I had to make sure to make quite an impression. I wanted to be a Japanese school girl at first, but I found the skirts didn't come in white man size. So, instead, I had the help of my mother and the US post service to send me a costume direct from America - the famous blue Avatar! I had told all of my students about it and they were so excited. I had everything ready to go - and then on Halloween - a typhoon decided to roll into Japan. Downpour all day, wind like crazy and me terrified that my makeup was gonna run!!!
Luckily, the Halloween gods smiled upon me and the rain let up right before we needed to go downtown. Well since I had to order my costume from home, I had to guess on the size. I'm usually a small in ladies attire - but since it was a lycra cat suit, I thought I would go a little bigger and just hope - well let's just say there's was no hiding anything on it - I couldn't even wear underwear it was that tight fitting! I actually couldn't sit down - so the whole train ride into the city, I had to stand...People on the train had one of 2 reactions - pure terror or genuine interest. The latter ones generally asked for photos and then stared the rest of the time - the freaked out group either moved train cars, or just decided to back away slowly from me not quite understanding if they were on a spoof TV show or if they were actually living a nightmare. One guy actually recoiled and fell into the sliding door and another looked at me and backed off the train and waited for the next one!
Once we got into the city - we hit up a few different parties - which were mostly chalked full of foreigners - which was fun and entertaining. I took maybe around 500 pictures, mostly with asians fascinated with my costume choice.
But the best part was, at the first party - after a long night of judging and flaunting - I won first place in the best costume in Tokyo category!! It was awesome - I beat out Mad Max for first! Such a fun evening and then the rest of the night was just a constant party..
Finally, when the parties died down, it was time to go home, but I didn't want to get back onto the train looking like a giant haggard smurf - so I decided to change in the McDonalds in Roppongi - which was a disaster, because I had forgotten that I had to be zipped into my outfit with help and there was no way in hell I was gonna be able to get out of it alone! So, I'm in the bathroom struggling to unzip this beast of a costume, which after ten minutes and 8 angry people at the door - I was able to wash the blue off my face, put real clothes on and stumble back to the train station and sit down for the first time in 8 hours!
All and all a great night and the first Halloween spent abroad - and I did it up right by living up to my personal anthem - Go Big or Go Home! :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Japanese Vampires?

Well I must say that I'm very thankful for the weather being cooler - but I guess I thanked the weather gods a little too early - now we have massive floods goin on - I swear I'm on the third floor I feel like there is gonna be a massive flash flood down my hallway...The rain here is different than in seattle - I know that sounds weird - but it actually stings here - it's big, heavy and cold - so it's not fun...plus the city needs to work on their drainage issues - just cause you have a drain doesn't mean the water is gonna go in it - the road needs to be level first!

2 things I've noticed more than before are bad breath and cauliflower ears...
I'm not really sure how cauliflower ears comes about - I just knew it was from wrestlers in High school who spent too much time face down on the mat - but here's its very common - and very distracting. People sit next to me on the trains and I can't help but stare since it looks like their ear lost a battle with the garbage disposal...I'm curious if it hurts? Can they hear well? Is it due to inbreeding?
Also, bad breath is very prevalent in Tokyo and I have a theory - rice. I have noticed that my body has changed since eating so much rice - my natural smell has altered itself. I think that people who eat rice 3 times a day start to process it differently and their body just uses the carbs and dumps the rest. The breath smells a little like a stale rice cake...it's really awful when are you either stuffed next to them on a busy train ride home or at a store where they feel the need to be right up close and personal when asking you for help.

Speaking of sales people - I have found a new level of annoyance with them - it seems as though most of them not only yell once you are in their shop - but now they start yelling when there are sales. They have special power hour sales - but instead of just posting a sign - they make sure everyone in the western hemisphere can hear it! Even though my maxed volume Ipod - I can still hear the shrill, soul shaking announcement about 2 for 1 on scrunchies...

So, when you miss the last train in Japan - you have 2 options - take a taxi and be broke for a month or just wait it out at the station you are stuck at. Well I did that yesterday on my way home from a lovely day of looking at beautiful shrines in Asakusa. I was stuck at the end of the line in a city that is a hub for the area I'm in - so I was thinking that there would be things like Karaoke places open - nope, wrong....Instead, I was haggled by 4 hookers when I went to the 7-11 for water and then ran past them into the Denny's and hid there for 3 hours until my the first train started. Again, Tokyo is the safest place in the world, and my only fear was what airborne diseases I would get from these poor Philippino hookers that kept asking me about having a 'good time'...

oh, btw - pigeons - grossest birds in the world - I think those flying rats could easily be exterminated and no one would miss them...

It's always funny when we go out to an Izakaiya, they have things on the menu that are supposed to reflect a semblance of American or Italian cuisine. Instead, what they do is they just make it as close as they can with the ingredients they have on hand...
Here's a few examples...
Margarita Pizza - classically tomato, mozzarella and basil...Well last time it was ketchup, string cheese and dried oregano...
Club Sandwich - usually turkey, bacon, lettuce, cheese and other good things - the one we had last time was a fried egg, ketchup, mustard, deli meat and greens...
If it's called cheesecake - it doesn't count if you stick a piece of cheese on top of sweet cake and toast it...

So I have found out a reason why so many places in Japan ask for your blood type. At first, I thought that it was because they were worried that if I were to get hurt, they would be able to know what kind of blood to supply me with - nope, not the case. Apparently, the reason that asking someone their blood type is not a personal question is because it tells a lot about the persons character - much like we say Zodiac signs do. People in Japan actually discriminate against other types of blood - like A and B don't get along and O is the best for the workplace. So, I wonder how many people have lied or lost jobs because of this strange plasmic segregation? It's not uncommon for someone to ask on a first date what your blood type is because families will reject the suitor or future inlaw because of their blood type, they only want the best lines for their family and will be vocal about it. Wow, and we thought we had it rough in America with interracial dating..:P

Well on Saturday, I had quite the adventure - and not a preplanned fun one...
During class on Friday, I had quite a strange episode that can really only be described as a small stroke. Now, normally if something strange happens, I just shake it off, but this time - it was abnormal...I wasn't able to see, which was followed by the loss of the ability to read or understand words. Oh yeah, and on top of that my breathing made me sound like a 20 year emphysema patient...
So, after deciding to followup with a doctor - I made the trek to the local hospital. Now, in America, we have private insurance, which has it's goods and bads, but in Japan - they are on National insurance, so there's really no difference in patient treatment - you could have hay fever or you could be holding your severed left arm and you'd still be in line behind the sneezing guy...
The hospitals weren't as newly updated as I would have thought and they were chocked full of geriatrics and snot rags...After you check in - it becomes musical chairs for the gifted - they have 5 different waiting areas for different procedures. I met the doctor after waiting for an hour, only to have him tell me to not worry about the head thing and to move to the next waiting line for the x-rays and blood work. The area that this was to happen in felt like it was a TV stage area from M*A*S*H - there were no partitions and everyone was lined up with their arms out looking like they were waiting of the heroin fairy to make a visit. And, of course, she asked my blood type, which is just shrugged my shoulders and asked if she would be able to test and tell me so that I could stop making up a different blood type each time.
The x-ray place reminded me of a fallout shelter. There were these huge metal sheets on the ceiling, a CT scanner that looked more like a coffin and the x-ray machine made me think of a dart board.
After all 20 people helped me through the process, we then sat and waited around for another hour to pay! Now, in the US, you wait for insurance to take care of it and pay your deductible and so on....well in Japan, you pay when you are at the doctors - so the woman behind the counter is adding up numbers longer than most grocery lists to see what the damage is...Surprisingly, it only cost 35 bucks to get everything and all the tests - so it looks as though National Insurance isn't half bad - now if we can just work on the expediency of it all so next time I go I don't have to worry about dying before I'm diagnosed....


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

it's Xmas in July!

Well not really, but Japanese have the hardest time with getting the holidays on the right days, or even months for that matter! I know that you are a whole day in the future to the rest of the western world, but seriously - let's check out the calendar since you are planning on ripping off the American holidays, do it with some dignity!
Let's look at example A - Halloween is a holiday at the end of October - not for the middle of September - yesterday, I found out that all the Halloween decorations for the office must be up by today, the 22nd of September...Also, haunted houses don't seem that scary when it's still light out at 7pm, aka - don't start them until October! September is the time for students to bitch and moan about classes and having to go back to school from their summer vacations - I can't make a bulletin board with pencils, rulers and witches hats - it's screws up the whole fung shui of it!
Example B - Valentines is the 14th of February - not the 14th of March - it's a overly romanticized holiday where everyone is supposed to be googlie-eyed for a special someone and you shower them with chocolates and flowers...well, in Japan, the ladies get the men a gift on the 14th and then a month later the men reciprocate...why would you want to prolong the world's cheesiest holiday!?
Example C - Christmas is on the 25th - there is no way around that - it's a holiday that has been brilliantly designed by the business masters of the 20th century who figured out that the only good time to shop is when it's cold out since malls are warm. Not only do they not have stockings in Japan - they feel the need to go to KFC and buy chicken, since there is no turkey available, and pretend to live in the holiday spirit that wafts over from America...Let's just say if I get rice in my stocking I won't be a happy camper..oh and don't even get me started on not having cranberry sauce for my substitute Thanksgiving this year...:P

So, another funny food thing is when there are foods that have the same name but are actually something totally different. I learned this over the past week from a student when we decided to discuss tapioca pudding. It went from a simple, light conversation about a yummy american snack into a full on debate over what the hell tapioca is - complete with diagrams and hand gestures....basically, we both agreed to disagree...:)

I would like to point out some basics in foreign gym etiquette...
If I'm on a machine, don't stand next to me waiting for me to finish - because I'm probably not goin to move any faster, I will grunt louder and I will try to sweat on all the parts that you will have to touch next..:)
If I put my Ipod ear phones back in, that's my non verbal communicative way of telling you that I'm done speaking to you in broken Japanese....
Please don't stretch out naked in the locker room after you are done with your work outs - it's already an awkward enough place for me to be stuck in a small room with naked asian men...
Passing gas on a treadmill is inappropriate, period...
If you are in an aerobics class wearing raver pants, a leopard print tube top, pink air force one sneakers and a sweatband that says 'eat me' - I'm gonna stare - get over it!

FYI - my new food love - vanilla bean custard cream puffs - oohh, how skinny of me!

Back at the ranch -
I have a student that is destined to be the next Regina George from Mean girls - she's 3 1/2 and she's already kickin ass and takin names. This little firecracker has spunk - she gives me attitude pretty much every time she's in class ,she hits me with her little stiletto - and her newest thing is to try and steal extra stickers when I specifically tell her only one...Today she thought it was funny to give me a wet willy...except she decided to forego the finger in the mouth and went right for the nasal cavity instead...
We have these get togethers at work when a teacher leaves, but unfortunately its just a time when we all get to talk about all the terrors that we each have - it's kinda like seeing who has the most ridiculous, awful, hopeless and difficult students...makes some feel better - for others, like me, it's just like a free therapy session....oh and the smiles on the faces of the teachers who are leaving is priceless - you can pretty much see a neon sign flashing above with an arrow pointing to the rest of us saying "suckers!!"

The fall is a very special time for me - it makes me really nostalgic for things that I miss back home - like friends in college, walks around 23rd street in portland, Pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks that I can special order and big maple leaves...
The fall has yet to come to Kasukabe, but when it does, I'm sure I'll be a mess...but the good thing is I will be sweating less, I can break out my pashminas and it's only a few months until I get to be in Hawaii!

I will say on a final funny note that I get my clothes dry cleaned here since I can't use the iron in my house because it makes my circuit breaker trip. Well I was at work all day with a busy schedule and instead of some telling me that there was a dry cleaning tag on my butt all day, I got to walk around with a giant stapled number through 10 lessons, a trip to the grocery store and a march through the local mall..god bless those far-too-polite Japanese....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jurassic Park

So Japan is much harder on students than I previously thought. Now, we all know that the poor children have to go to school 6 days and then have to deal with awful English teachers like me after their long days in public school...but what I found out today is not only do they have to study all the time - they actually have to take a test to get into high school - High school!? I told one of my students that we just go to the school in the area we live and she almost lost her mind - she's been studying for almost a year just to get into the high school she wants. Cheers to them, but if I was a student in Japan with my track record for studying - this little one would be a grade A burger flipper for sure!

Don't ever try to learn Japanese while listening to people on the phone in Japan - not only do they sound like broken records, they really only use like 4 words....It's hysterical to eavesdrop on a conversation thinking that it'll be a good learning experience, but instead - all you hear is hi, hi, hi, hi, so, so, so, so, so, hi, so, hi, hi...omg, it's awful....I actually asked one of my friends if she even had a conversation or just listened to someone state their grocery store list...

So, news from around the watering hole...
I have a new student who apparently farts whenever he gets nervous or frustrated - so basically I have decided that he will only be repeating the ABC's until he's 50..
There is an older student that has an arm thing goin on where she holds her hand like a swan neck when she talks to me and I can't keep my eyes off of it - it's so distracting.
I have a two year old starting this week and I'm not sure what to do with a child of that age - but I think I've narrowed her first lesson down to two things - how to make the perfect martini or Sarah Jessica Parker's shoes from Sex and the City...it's a toss up...
I have a new nick name for the mangers at work - The Seagulls...You know that absolutely obnoxious sound seagulls make when you stop throwing them french fries at the pier - well that's the sound they make when they are greeting students or sending them off - it's not a wonder the students make a run for the elevator when their are done with class - I'd avoid that verbal tonal abuse at all costs too!

As we all know, the hair in Japan is pretty horrendous - but the newest fashion flub to attack Tokyo are fingernails! They are long, mulit-colored digit messes. Oh, and they aren't short by any means - they are Velocraptor claw length stretching outward just waiting to attack...They have reflective fake gems the size of bike reflectors on them and even have chains with charms hanging from them. I kid you not - there was girl with a Hello Kitty hanging from her middle finger - barf! It's like they tried to dress their nails with their eyes closed - they are just a mess! Watching girls struggle with texting on their phones with their giant surfboard nail extensions is fun - though the best is when their gems get snagged on their hair as they primp - awesome! Remember when press on's were actually cool - I think Tokyo is where press on nails go to die! And of course, it's not the ladies that have the nice, tailored, conservative outfits who rock these god awful finger accessories - it's the ones that wear the skanky-Miami meets Indie-80's-rocker clothes, so the whole ensemble is just a complete visual tragic monstrosity!

Side note - I don't care how long, annoying, in-the-way or tangled your hair is - Men should not have pig tails!

If their outfits weren't bad enough - they have another accessory - and these ones pee, whimper and creep me out - little purse dogs. I know that Tokyo is an over crowded city, so there's no room for normal dogs, like Labs or Golden Retrievers - but for god sakes, get rid of the ugly tea cup, miniature, genetically flawed, oversized rats - and especially don't ruin a perfectly good Gucci bag by shoving one of these hairy rodents into it! They have them everywhere - in the elevators, in lunch places, department stores, in bike baskets and hair salons. Dogs are meant to dig in the dirt, wrestle and bark at cats - not quiver in fear when they see a bird or falling leaves...I do find it funny that when you see a guy walking a small dog in America, he is either a) gay or b) walking it for his prissy girlfriend while she talks on the phone to her obnoxious girlfriends...Here - it's just a Tuesday night...no butch points are subtracted for walking your mini-yorkie - but be warned - if I'm not within kicking distance to boot it in to the upper stratosphere - I will be judging your ass!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010





video
So, the hike up Mt Fuji was pretty damn cool...not only was it a beautiful evening out without rain, wind or lines - we were able to hike up by moonlight! I felt so very authentic and rustic Japanese....
It took us about 6 hours to get to the top from the 5th station on the mountain. If you remember last time, we were pelted by rain, hail and wind that actually forced us down early and kept up from the top. This time we were able to get all the way to the top without any problems. We did run into many annoying Americans, some of which thought I was Japanese and were talking about me as I was hiking - I giggled the whole time and they were so embarrassed at the top when I turned to Erin, my hiking partner, and said, "Im pretty sure they thought I didn't speak any English", which they then went white and ran away...lol
We were there at the top way before we shoulda been - almost 3 hours to wait for the sunrise - which normally would have been fine - but because it was zero degrees - and I only had a jacket and sweatshirt on - I shivered and bitched the whole time waiting....We made a nest to keep warm by a big rock and had the most perfect viewing position - so we rotated turns going down to the little hut below that had a bathroom and souvenirs. There were probably about 1000 people on the hill with us to view, which was awesome to watch people hiking up below us because it looked like a airport runway all the way down the mountain - insane! All these little ants marching up the hill at 3 am in the dark to reach the summit - unfortunately, some people didn't make it because the line was so long and some people aren't as quick and nimble, some had to enjoy the sunrise from the side of the trail.

I had packed 2 special things in my bag - sake to cheers with a cucumber...
I know, a cucumber?! Well the story goes that when you hike up Fuji, you are much closer to the heavens, so you are able to communicate with your ancestors. So, while you are up there, they come down and you bring the cucumber with you and a pair of chopsticks to build what looks like a horse. This is so that the spirits of your ancestors are able to ride back to heaven. During Obon, the really big holiday weekend in Japan, the top of the mountain is littered with these. It was kinda a special moment - all until I cheersed my sake and spilled it all over! I think that the lack of oxygen made my head psyche itself out and i think "loopy" is the only word to describe my actions. :)

It was the last chance this year to be able to go and hike up Mt. Fuji since the season closed this weekend - because it starts to get too cold, icy, rainy and dangerous. I'm so glad that I was able to conquer that beast! It was one of those special moments that you keep with you forever, even though I'm sure all the people on the train home would rather of us not shared with them since we smelled like all the worst parts of a rodeo or sewer treatment plant - but, hey - you can't win em all....I just winked at them and said, "when was the last time you climbed Fuji-san eh?" :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bugzilla!

I thought that Godzilla was killed by a fictitious moth thing - but it turns out those things actually live here! They are huge - I would have thought for a small island country like Japan that the bugs would have been small and scarce..um, no...
This morning I woke up to the largest praying mantis on my door and I actually squealed a little - I thought it was gonna go right for my jugular! The moths here are also nothing to gawk at...They can be up to 6 inches and apparently they are actually poisonous - what?!
My least favorite, of course, are the spiders - which thank god I have not had the opportunity to run into yet...but the other creepy crawlies here are the large cockroaches that live everywhere...They are black, big and have wings - they are basically the grim reaper in bug form. My managers at work are so scared of them that they will interrupt my class to make me get one out of the hallway....Oh and if you are not used to cicadas - don't move here in the summer time - I am still confused in the morning when I keep trying to shut off my alarm clock, only to realize that it's a dying cicada in my window...

Ok - so I know there is doctors without borders - but can someone please start a dentists without borders and begin with Japan. The teeth here are awful! Between the yellow, crooked, snaggled tooth or the non flossers - I can't figure it out...there are more fake teeth here than all of Boca Raton and Scotsdale combined! And it's not just old people, young people have faces chocked full of messed up chewers too...

Let's talk about some basics in biking rules. Yes, I still have it and No, I haven't killed anyone while riding yet....
If you are a walker and you choose to walk in a fish tale pattern like a drunk sailor - then you are eligible for being run over - it's almost like you are a giant bullseye - so don't complain when I barely clip your shoulder..
If your bike has a squeaky brake - get it fixed or give up on using it and play kamikaze at the intersection, cause I can't handle that sound anymore!
Bikes are not like cars - it's not as funny to try and see how many drunk people you can fit on one bike at a time...
Just like driving - don't text and bike - it doesn't work and you ultimately end up sending inappropriate texts thanks to autocorrect
If I park my bike somewhere over night - that doesn't automatically mean that it becomes a garbage station - so stop putting your empty beer cans in my mommy basket!

Let me tell you about some of the parents that show up to work everyday. Some of these moms are gorgeous - yet they have the most horrendous children. These are the ones that hurl candy shrapnel out of their noses at me when they sneeze or think it's funny to kick me in the shins while I'm talking to their parents....I wanna ask them if they have bad vaginal karma at some point and popped out the anti-christ...
My other favorite is the moms that dress their children to match them - and I mean down to the bracelets...it's almost creepy - I can't tell if it's the mom that wants to stay young or the daughter who wants to grow up - but either way, it tends to freak me out and I hide in my room...

I swear if I have to play one more game of UNO, I might actually pitch myself out my 4th story window! I really wish that we could somehow make UNO a drinking game at work - it would make it so much more enjoyable. It's also funny to see how many different variations of the rules there are for my little ones....not only do I have to remember their non-genderfied names, now I also have to remember if they play doubles, stacking or single picks...uggh!
I am looking for other games that they actually understand - but I can't seem to get the idea of Old maid or rummy - way too complicated and I just don't have the patience to teach them yet- especially when a majority of them end up getting distracted and pick their friends noses instead - which reminds me to pick up some more purell and to laminate the cards so I can soak them in bleach at night...
I haven't had the heart to tell my coworker that he smells like a dirty rag - but I think it will be imperative in the next week before I pass out cold at work from the overwhelming rankness that looms in the hallways when he walks by. The smell can only be described to those who have worked in a bar before and know that smell that a bar towel gets after a crazy night, full of drunken college kids and it's the only cloth left and you'd rather not wipe up the spill then potentially get let the stench penetrate your skin - yeah, it's that times 10...I absolutely love my coworker because he's the simplest man ever. He's so kind you can't hate anything he does - though he is probably the most socially awkward person you will ever run into, he means well and is pretty cute with the kids....

So, I know that I'm an english teacher and I should be teaching them all the correct things to say and what not, but when you have said the same word 100 times in a row and then need to say it in the next class 100 times again - you want to change it up to keep yourself sane. I've learned a new trick to keep myself entertained - last week I had a young child that I decided to hold a fork up and I told her to say "spoon"...I giggled until I saw her the next week and she had her lunch with her and she looked at her mom with her fork in her hand and said 'spoon' - the mother speaks perfect english...crap! I rushed away with my head down, karmatically kicking my own ass...oh but today, there was a funny moment with an older lady that I have who read the book Anne of Green Gables during the past week and decided to tell me about it - while she was trying to describe the title of the book - she asked me how to say 'gables', so we worked it out phonetically....by the time I realized how I had split the word up - I was already trying to hold back the tears - I looked up on the white board and I had written "gay bulls"...which she nodded and wrote down in her daily file...great, now she thinks that the book is an animal version of Brokeback mountain....