Friday, April 23, 2010

I invented the bump...

God, if Japanese people only knew that all Americans aren't like the Jersey Shore tv show - they would like us and respect us so much more....:)

On that note, the should also take a quick look in the mirror before they leave the house...Sometimes the things they do to their hair scares me! You know those hair styling books that you look at in the hair salon while you wait your turn - the ones with the over permed, moussed, styled, sprayed, teased and quaffed do's...well take the really bad pages in the back and imagine them walking in full living color! and I mean color...they have steaks of every color and this odd reddish attempt at blonde look...There was a girl I walked behind last week and I was amazed she was able to walk in a straight line - she must have had like 500 bobby pins in her head - and I've been in a number of dance recitals with tight hair buns before, but that was a little excessive! Also, there seem to be no rules for genderfying hairdo's...boys look like girls, girls look like boys and they all look like strange cabbage patch dolls!

People on the train have this amazing ability that I am just in awe about - they are able to be completely unconscious, but then magically wake up for their stop. It's like someone tasered them once they got to their station. It's nuts! Kinda like the world's best power nappers all on one subway line...

There is no nice way to walk through millions of people when you are rushing around during rush hour - much like when I first arrived in Tokyo and was body checked by an 80 year old in Shinjuku station - I have learned that that is just normal one says excuse me, no one worries when you dislocate someone's shoulder or make them spill coffee all over themselves...It's a mess when you are expecting to have a clean, neat execution of people crossing every which way - it's just not a possibility - like making me wear socks and sandals...
Well one day when it was pouring outside and I kept getting gouged in the eye with the umbrella ends - I decided to take advantage of the situation. Since Japanese won't really say anything, I was able to play a game with my umbrella - I call it the umbrella bop - it basically goes like this...take your umbrella, hold it up a little higher than everyone else's - walk right in the middle of the crowd and bop it on top of each of the umbrellas you pass - just like Dori does in Finding Nemo in the jellyfish forest...its great and you really don't get all that many funny looks..

Oh, expect to pay for everything in Tokyo - you want a towel at the gym -$2, you want a toothpick $.30, you want a giraffe $500...things like that....

Vending machines are just an additional thing to add to the cash driven society...There are probably 3 vending machines per corner, all selling the same thing, all maintained by little old ladies and they sell everything from hot tea to protein water and Ipods to children (just kidding).

And lastly, I've learned that just because your American doesn't mean everyone is gonna like you or agree with what your country has done - but as long as you can throw back a beer with stranger in a bar - it doesn't matter what your passport says - your on way to your next unexpected drink up!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

brace yourselves...

I have some very shocking news for everyone - I know its going to boggle your mind - but sit down if you currently are standing...I have rejoined the world of normal people by inviting back, wait for it - PEANUT BUTTER into my life! Yes, I have learned again to love that sticky, chewy, smear-able paste...Let me give you a quick background on why this is so important. Growing up, my wonderful mother did not inherit the cooking, domestic housewife gene - daily lunches consisted of a sugar filled playland that I thoroughly enjoyed, but should have ended up at fat kid camp for consuming. Everyday I would have a peanut butter, nutella and chocolate chip sandwich - which is the best trading chip on the playground by the way...Nonetheless, after years of eating this - I grew tired of peanut butter, going as far as 'hating' it. Now that I have been in Tokyo and devoid of certain American delicacies, aka peanut butter (the Skippy kind), I have found that when you are missing out on something that should be taken for granted, you want it ever more! I had a friend make a lunch for us to take to a park on a sunny afternoon - and she whipped out this pb&j - which I of course recoiled and gave that stinky face to. But, knowing that I was eating for free, I dug in - and let me tell you - heaven on my tastebuds! That's right kids - send me peanut butter cups, stick it in brownies or put it on waffles - I'll take it!!

The other fun thing I have witnessed here in Tokyo is womens obsession with shoes. Now, I know that any American gal loves to stock pile her footwear every time Nordy's has a sale, but the ladies here are something of a different breed! I just can't figure out where they stick them all since everyone lives in a shoebox - there's no way to keep all the other things you need in your life...well, maybe women in Japan just go without...But the most interesting part is not that they have 20 kinds of boots or wedges that make them soar to Amazonian heights - the strangest part is the way they don't buy shoes that fit!? Almost every woman I've seen with stilettos has about a half inch gap in the back, which causes her foot to clap every time she takes a step. Now, my philosophy on life is if you are gonna spend a month's paycheck on some killer kicks - make sure that they fit properly and have been broken in...I don't get why on earth you would buy shoes that make you look like your playing dress up...hhmm - yet another quandary the Japanese have injected into my brain...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Scrunchies...oh the humanity!

Well its official - Carrie Bradshaw would be appalled right now! I have actually witnessed a large number of scrunchies around the city - and these are not on the usual culprits - these are on women who are actually carrying the new LV bag with the fall edition Dior pumps. I think I'm still dumbfounded and I can seem to only mumble "jesus, mary and joseph on a cross...what the hell did you do this time Kathleen.." bonus points for all those Kathy Griffin fans out there..;)

It is nice to know though, that if you have decided to leave the scrunchie at home and you put your sunglasses on, even at night, that you are pretty much allowed rockstar status - you are able to pose and have people look at you at the train station, pretend to not care about the bill at the bar and flirt with who ever you want - god, I feel like Lindsay Lohan right now...but it's true! I love that Japanese people avoid things like pretty people all the time - they literally get up in the subway - or else, maybe I smell..hhmm...

I've decided that one thing I'm going to do to add to my morning sleep time is to bring my clothes with me on the train and change right there - since it seems as though it doesn't really matter cause no one would say a darn thing! They just continue on reading their anime and novels, backwards of course...;)

But that's not to say that Japanese are not good multi-taskers...I have personally witnessed a woman, on a bike, with a cigarette in her mouth, holding an umbrella in the rain, texting, in a skirt with groceries - damn gurl that takes skill! If only I could get walking and talking at the same time down...;)

I swear I have seen the same people in Tokyo like everyday - I feel that every time I turn a corner, I bump into someone that I know - but alas, it's not and I have made a fool of myself by smiling and trying to remember the right greeting in Japanese...The good thing is, I don't have time to recognize anyone cause they are all looking at the ground when they walk, so I'd never know if my soul mate were to pass me - but he'd know I'm wearing killer shoes...:)

Oh, and a final note - if you are a light sleeper - bring earplugs to Japan! It's not only because your window may be within a fingers distance of the neighbors and the walls you share are actually paper - but because in the morning there are these vans that drive around with loudspeakers on the announcing a variety of things - from plumbers and carpenters to the next official up for election. Now, not only am I a sound sleeper - I kinda usually don't notice things like earthquakes or small children screaming - but the first time that I was awoken by these mysterious loudspeakers - I literally jumped from the top bunk to the floor and hit the deck thinking that maybe the bombs were being dropped or it was a tsunami - either way, my roommate still looks at me, you win some, you lose some...:)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

under my umbrella, ella ella ella eh eh eh

Yeah, that was a quick shout out to RiRi...I hope she stops off here on her world tour! I missed Lady Gaga since the tickets were already sold out by the time they told the white people about her coming!

It seems as though Japanese love to make sure that everyone is reminded how much they like white people. We are on everything - posters, subway signs, wedding programs, etc...They think that people will buy into what ever they are selling as long as there are white people included somewhere - I'm surprised they haven't tried to this at a car dealership - buy a toyota, get a white passenger...

Oh, don't try to be polite and say "bless you" or "Gazeundehite" if someone sneezes - because they kinda just stare at you like you are condemning them for sneezing in the first place.

Japanese don't really say "no" either - instead of an outright, I'm from New York so don't mess around, yes that's my final answer, are you listening?! kinda "NO" that we are used to back home in the states - they really just try to go around the problem all together with different suggestions. Its cute that if you ask to have a party on a certain day and work has already decided what day it is to be on - instead of saying "no, we already have the date set" you get something like "we like your suggestion and we would move the date, but as a company we value the date we have chosen and would like to look into it further..." omg, shoot me in the face - just be blunt and tell em to buck up or shut up! Teaching english will be funny cause you know I'm gonna be using that little 2 letter word alot!

In every culture that I have ever been immersed in - I have learned that they each have their own ways of doing things. I have learned a few new things about one dish in particular in Japan - the elusive rice bowl. Never never put your chopsticks straight into you rice and let them stick up and down - that is a big no-no because that's a sign that it's an offering for someone who has passed away. Also, never put anything onto your rice - sorry mom, no butter allowed - they just give you strange looks...Don't share anything by passing them to someone with your chopsticks - you will be rejected....and never stab you food with them either - no matter how horrible you are with chopsticks. It's better to go hungry then to make a fool out of yourself in public....:P

An lastly, on that note of being a fool - I saw someone on the train that I just had to pity - for they had fallen to a new drunken low....Last night on the train - a younger guy was being held up by his girlfriend as he waited for the next train - after he got on and managed to prop himself against the door, he swayed back and forth between stops. It was raining out and pretty windy - so thank god the his girlfriend had an umbrella with her, not only to keep herself dry - but to allow her boyfriend to throw up in....aww young love...blah :P

Sunday, April 11, 2010 house...

Wow, if you ever thought that our stadiums full of drunk good old boys was awesome to see - wait until you check out how organized baseball game crowds are....They changed the song each time, they had their own series of chants for each of the was awesome to watch how each section made it look as though they got lessons from a cheer coach.
Also, the funny thing was there are no sections for teams, so who ever is there first determines which side the home team sits on - and there is no mixing of teams - your color team is the only one allowed on your side of the fence! Check out how good they are - I just wish I knew what they were saying!

Oh and boys - don't plan on spittin out any of those peanut shells - they have monitors with garbage bags that walk up and down your aisle and wait for you to accumulate trash...and they are on you like hawks!

Beer was cheap, seats were really close, the boys wore tight pants and the sun was shining - yes it is true - the warmer months are upon us - thank baby jesus!!! :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

oh Hanami

Wow, well I've now experienced what it's like to go through a human car wash. After being totally lost in trying to find my friends, I decided to go head strong right through the middle of the crowds of ohhing and ahhing asians. This was quite the treacherous task. I found that people come early and stake their claim on a small plot of land in the wee hours in the morning and prepare to set up for the day with food, booze and friends. The only thing is they leave a small pathway in between these tarps and blankets for the semi-sober to traverse. It's awesome to see all the families congregate together and share laughs and stories. I just had no idea that so many people would be turing out for it! There is only a limited amount of time during the spring that one can view these cherry blossoms and everyone knows this - so the minute there's a break in the clouds or cold weather - everyone rushes out to catch a glimpse of the pretty pink cotton candy trees.
As the day rolls on, people start laughing louder, drums are broken out, guitars make appearances and people start passing out! It's hilarious to see a whole family of people sitting next to you slowly get picked off one by one from a losing battle with sake...
Someone told me that Japanese must be made of sugar - because the minute it starts to rain or even sprinkle - its like watching cockroaches scatter in the light! I've never seen so many thousands of bodies move so well so quickly. They were able to mobilize all their belongings, clean up the park and move out all in about 15 minutes! Apparently, the fun parks are the ones with the late night hanami - where the booze continues to flow and the drunk activities get more fun and dangerous!
I love how a beautiful, innocent thing such as a cherry blossom viewing can cause such a ruckus, creates bonding with strangers and leaves you with hangovers that last for days! God bless public drinking!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kyoto protocol....

Ok, so Kyoto wasn't everything that its cracked up to be - except that there are tons of tourists and lines like Disneyland everywhere! A few things I learned..
Always check when kids are on vacation - because the parents take full advantage of dragging them to every shrine and temple on their free days...
When getting a room - if its cheap, its missing something - ya gotta pay for the goods!
Don't expect everyone to be nice all the time - my guess is they have been asked the same question by a foreign tourist 100 times that day - so being snippy is allowed...
Don't overnight bus anywhere - seriously its worth the extra 50 bucks to travel by train - mostly because you can potty whenever and you can stretch you legs!

Another thing I have found out is that I'm not sure if it's the weather - or the fact that I'm not going out drinking as much as I used to - but I'm kinda a lightweight

and the best thing of all - Megan, my coworker here, taught me to take a Pepcid AC before a night of drinking and there's no asian glow! Hallelujah!!!!

The Chopstick Challenge

God I miss forks! Everyday I am forced to use Ohashi "chopsticks" and it's hilarious to watch me squirm with noodle and bits of rice...I have learned a few tricks that seem to work well...
Make a fool of yourself because it doesn't really matter - slurping is normal and encouraged, so just bottoms up on the noodle bowl - you are totally allowed to look like a pig and shovel food in from the edge of the bowl...It becomes survival - but I'm pretty good at it now...but don't ask me to pick a moving fly with one - cause that'll never happen...;)

So, Japanese people are so courteous - they even get gifts when on vacation for those who werent' able to go - it's called a Omeyagi - and it's a gift for those when you return that is important some how to the area you were in - usually food - and is shared by everyone who wasn't able to make trip with you...So, basically it's like saying - haha you missed out - here's what you get instead...:P

TV here is hilarious considering what's available and actually watched....
So at night there are really only three options of things to watch - game shows with weird activities, new programs with very boring news or kittens, yes kittens - they have 30 minutes programs that show cute little animals all over the TV screen - it's completely pointless, there are no ads and everyone goes "kawai-i" every 5 seconds, which means cute. Most days I wanna throw up in my mouth a little bit - but they are cute to watch - better than horrible American news of death and destruction..

OMG - hairdressers listen up! You will be able to make a fortune if you are really good at coloring hair in Asia...Here's why..;)
So, I was sitting on the train and in walks in this 80 year old grandmother of like 30 children with her burberry raincoat on, little umbrella and her daily market shopping - but wait - the woman had bright blue hair! Now at first I was thinking it was just a crazy rock and roll grandma and totally wanted to applaud her - but as the day wore on, I counted at least 10!
It's taking the term "blue wash" to a whole new level! So, boys get your little dye kits out and practice on some asians! If you can get that awful blue out - Asia will love you!