Monday, July 26, 2010

drool and sweat

Wow - Tokyo is one hot place....
I can't even tell you all the crazy amounts of buckets of sweat I have lost...since this morning!!!
It's about 90 with 10000% humidity - its basically what I envision hell to be like - except with way more rice and less bad drivers...
It's only going to get hotter - which means I have another 12 weeks of sweating from pores that I didn't know existed..
My advice, unless your cold blooded creature - stay away from Tokyo when the sun is shining! It's funny cause I don't even mind that I have sweat streaks running down my back since the only thing I'm concerned with is the next stop off with AC!!
There actually are different levels of sweating I've decided - starts with the mild, healthy glow that you get when it's warm...then it moves into the small beads of sweat that accumulate on your head - much like on a first date or an awkward encounter with an ex...Then you start to get the back sweat, the kind that makes it awful to wear a shirt that has the ability to change colors like gray to dark gray - it's like putting a bullseye on your back for the butt end of jokes on the train...then, when the damn sun is in full force - you get the waterfall - the uncontrollable face, back, leg, arm leakage that just makes you the most unattractive person in the world - at this point you either need to just assuming the position and walk with your head high or find a nice boutique with an arctic blast goin on and pretend to show until you are dry - I won't mention that today I spent an hour in a lingerie shop cause it was colder than the skater shop next door - thank god for being gay!!

There is something fun that we don't have in America - Summer festivals! There is a festival every weekend in Japan. They are full of drunk people banging drums and bouncing portable shrines on their shoulders. The best part is these festivals are kind of just an excuse for more public drunkenness. I went to festival for the morning glory last week - wtf?!! who has a party over a plant?! The parties don't last long and everyone gets dressed up, which is fun - all except for the men in the traditional gear - let me explain the meaning of butt floss....It's like a diaper cut in half in the back and shoved in between ones butt cheeks - now it wouldn't be bad if these people all looked like Mario Lopez or someone with ass for days, but instead, we get to witness the horror of a drunk salary man running around like a giant kindergartener thinking he looks decent. Don't even get me started on the whistle blowing during these events - my ear drums are still recovering.

Though the good thing about summer is the food changes with the seasons - there are all new kinds of wonders to try at the store. Some good, some to pass on - but all worth a try. Many of the fruits are in full swing at this point and they are mixed into most desserts - very delicious. Along with food - I have learned that there are different ways to hold chopsticks - I thought there was just a universal way to get the food from plate to mouth - oh, no - there is a finesse that makes me green with envy...I have watched people eat with their finger towards the ends, others with this claw like position, some with the finely engineered positioning to get the optimal's crazy - so I have been trying to mimic these over the last week - lets just say that I've stained 4 shirts, 2 pairs of pants and crushed my pride.

Earth quakes are common in japan - the only thing is I wish we could time them correctly. I was totally asleep in my sauna of an apartment finally, and then I am awoken to the rumbling of a minute long earthquake. Normally I would be fine with these - but you know that time when you are just waking up and you don't remember even you own name. Well my instinct was to grab something and run for the hills - well apparently the only thing close to me was a hand towel and I couldn't decide whether to run for the squeaky screen door or the front door. I chose the later and ended up saying hello to my new neighbors with just a hand towel - classy Dain...

The beaches in Tokyo are actually really fun - they are clean and there aren't many people at them since Japanese find tan skin repulsive. I liked the fact that there were 2 people in 500 feet of beach this weekend and it was hot as hell - where as in Seattle, I'd either have to bride someone with beer or sexual favors to cough up a small square of grass to sit on at Madison Beach. Too bad I look like Sebastian from the Little Mermaid now....:P

Omg, Let me tell you about the newest hair thing that scares the hell outta me - My good friend Erin calls it the super bun. This is a mess of hair properly arranged on the tops of ones head ranging from the size of a baseball to a small soccer ball. These things are dangerous since they are full of secrets and would probably do damage if fallen on...
Today, I saw one of the best specimens yet - she was sitting next to me so I couldn't take an photographic proof - but I crap you not, this thing was probably the size of a healthy watermelon precariously perched on top of her streaked blonde hair. The best part was that in between me attempting to touch it to see if it was actually a raccoon on her head - a beetle fell from the rack above onto the giant beehive mess and she didn't even notice - it was the first time that though I might actually have to get off the train to pee!!!

On a negative note about trains - it's the beginning of jumper season in Tokyo. I've already been to a station that was closed because someone thought it was better to jump in front a train then continue on with life. It's very sad - but unfortunately a very common occurrence here in Tokyo - pretty much weekly - it's covered by the national Japanese Insurance apparently, which is good cause it costs so much for clean up and the time lost for all the passengers - but it's so sad to think that someone is so sad that they can't go on - I want all those people to come and talk to me and hopefully some of my sparkly glitter will rub off on them!

Better news about the train today - I was coming home from Shibuya and there was the funnest thing I've seen yet on the trains. This woman, who looked normal and like a regular everyday business lady, sits down on the train across from me, pulls out a small blue hand towel, proceeds to place it gingerly around her neck like ones does with a bib to a child, puts her head down and sleeps - now this may not seems strange, but when when the woman is a natural drooling waterfall - one can't help but giggle - I could see the spittle in the sunshine and it was pretty much like a faucet dripping in full force...She literally was asleep in her drool on the train, in the middle of the day, she got up - folded up her towel and got off at the stop before me - now at this point I had laughed so hard I thought I was going to throw up!!!

Oh, let me tell you about some of my new students. There was a little girl who is newer to my Friday afternoon class - she has an amazing trick that she likes to perform, I think unconsciously during my class. She blows snot bubbles as she talks!!! It's awkward cause I laugh the whole time and I think she doesn't know why - I'm like a big 10 year old when she comes to class cause I wanna see if she's able to do it again each week. Too bad she's adorable and like 6...uggh - I'm
So, I also have this new ritual with the hellian of a child and it's driving me nuts - not only am I not able to eat in peace when he's there - he has decided that it's awesome or ransack my room while I"m on my lunch and come over and stick his finger in each of my food items and ask what they are = if I don't get the bird flu - I will be shocked!!!

On a final note, a story that cannot be missed - so I have told you in the past about the garbage situation in Japan - everything is separated and organized...everything goes on different days - it's all greek to me - I can't figure out what the damn sign says so I usually just wait until I see what's supposed to be thrown away, run downstairs with my garbage and pray that I don't get yelled at by the little old ladies...We'll I've learned that easier then that is just to throw it away late at night when no one can spy on me so that I don't have to figure out which days to separate since some little magic elf does it anyways whenever i leave it...Well I guess I'm busted since last week, I pulled my usual CIA undercover spy move and ran it to the communal garbage spot and stealthily walked away - only to find the garbage piled neatly back up - ON MY PORCH! I've been spotted, tagged and labeled by the neighbors - damn - the honeymoon period is over!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fuji 1 - Dain 0

Mother Nature won again on our recent trip up to Fuji...

Here's what went down....

So, we started our fun journey early in the morning in Shinjuku station - many of us coming from far stations. We actually all made it in time, which for this group of people, was very surprising.
We loaded ourselves onto the bus and made our way south forwards Fujisan.
Well lets just say that we didn't make any friends on the bus - we were very excited - so naturally we were talkative - which apparently most people wanted to sleep and didn't care about us swapping horror stories of our crazy children in class. 2 1/2 hours later - we finally pulled into the 5h station - where most of the tourists come to snap a quick photo and they say they've been on Fuji. I can see why - this station stop was fully supplied with every type of knock knack needed to prove you have climbed that beast. I'm pretty sure my favorite was the girl in patent leather pink peep toe stilettos walking down the beginning of the hike with her Chloe shades and Gucci bag - gripping her Starbucks since it was about 43 degrees. We acclimated pretty quick and decided to start ahead on the hike up the hill.
Started out great - we were making great time - and then we came to the 7th station stop. The hike went from flat smoothed out gravel into Bolle style hiking where chains and handgrips are required to traverse up the lava flow. This is where the weaklings turned around...;)
This is about where my shoes were officially Lake Erie. We where slowly being pelted by rain as if mother nature was warning us to turning around and get our butts back to the land of luxury coaches with heaters - but oh no, our stubborn butts decided to flip her the bird and continue on..bad idea...

So after another 2 hours of climbing, bitching, slipping and swearing - we made it to our mountain hut. Now those of us who are used to staying in hotels or at least fancy RV's, would have been shocked and appalled by the ancient accommodations that lay before us. It was a huge room with some tables to eat at and dry our clothes - beyond that there were bunk bed rooms - similar to the ones you were forced to go to a a child for summer camp - you know the musty smell those had - now multiple that by 130 years, add waterlogged boots and sweat soaked jackets littered all over the walkways. Oh, and no heat..only blankets on top of elongated bunk beds. We were given our 6 'slots' to sleep - so basically we were spooning like unwilling sardines....I was just hoping that I wouldn't catch some kind of head lice from the pillows or bed bugs from the covers...

We brought our wet wares to the giant, airplane engine looking heater that was in the middle of the main room. Let me explain this situation - we only had a few hours to get to dry our clothes since the energy for the mountain hut runs on a generator and needed to be turned off at some point. The scene was a bit of a cluster - it looked as though a garage sale had thrown up on the floor - and not a good one - the kind that the left overs wouldn't even be taken by the Goodwill. People held their dripping socks and soaked gloves in front of the heater - and if you stood back it looked as though they were refugees receiving their first food ration from the Red Cross. Everyone rotated - much like penguins - to maintain heat - which, in turn, turn lead to conversations with strangers. We met a few english speakers - since Fuji is primarily a tourist trap for the adventurous.

After some Chicken curry and a few round of cards - we decided to hit the sack and let the cuddle fest begin. You know that person that comes in the group that has to have the last word - well we had two that decided to fight for that title. After many "shhhh's" and "will you shut up"s- we got to rest...all until the wind started to pick up. This is where the little boy in me needed a blanky and a bed time story. It sounded as though giant dragons where landing around our hut, howling and shaking the ground. The wind was so strong there were times that we were afraid the roof was going to rip off - instead, the wind just picked up rocks from the mountainside and hurled them at our hut's metal roof - causing this metallic clang every 15 seconds or so. There was very little sleep to be had need less to say...
We were planning on being up at 2am to hike to the summit on the last 2 hour trek upwards - but we were told that it was too dangerous and we should not attempt. Well, we took their advice and slept a little longer. We were awoken at 5 to them telling us that we were basically forbidden to go to the top and they were actually evacuating us to the bottom of the mountain with a professional guide and we had 30 minutes to get our stuff together and join the parade - let's just say that was a one conga line I was not gonna miss....

Our trek down was pretty harmless - lots of strong gusts and a few moments of silence as we watched our pride slowly chip away as we descended to the green trees below. We all talked about going up again so that we could see the damn sunrise - but as the Japanese proverb goes, "He who climbs Fuji once is wise, he who climbs it twice is a fool."
Well as for you I was never much of a rule follower - so I think I'm going to pray to the weather gods, grab some better rain gear, pack some more chocolate and head up the beast one more time to see why Japan is actually called the land of the rising sun.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Damn Birds

Happy Fourth of July
It's strange to be in a city where there aren't big firework shows - since that's what I've grown up with and definitely missed this weekend. I love the outdoor BBQ's and the endless flow of beer - followed up with some off key national antheming and watching dumb boys see who can get the closest to the firework without it blowing their eyebrows off.

I have learned that I don't need an alarm clock in the morning since recently the neighborhood pests have moved into my block - where instead of hearing cooing from the pigeons in the morning - I hear them trying to procreate instead - sounds a bit like when you accidentally step on a cats tail and it yelps - well try that for an hour in the morning - not all that romantic.

The farther out you go into the countryside the less english people speak - no let me rephrase that - they turn what they think is english into Japanglish. Let's look at a menu for example. Would you want to order the assorted fried chicken cartilage on the menu? Or maybe the excess pork fat lumps? How about the raw chicken sashimi - Salmonella anyone?

There is really only one main street in Kasukabe that goes from the freeway right to the train station. Its nice since they just repaved the road and biking is easier there now, the only thing that they haven't fixed are the birds that hang out in the trees above. Everyday, biking home is like a sparrow poop russian roulette. The trees overhang onto the street and there are thousands of birds in the trees - the noise is unreal - the high pitched squawking sounds like my class of 5 year olds on Tuesdays...

Speaking of class, let me tell you about some of the students and what things they have accomplished this week...
My whale child still picks his nose heavily in class, but I have gotten him to at least stay near his seat. The sneezing girl decided that she wanted to draw all over her friend in class - so I gave her a permanent marker...ooops
One of my older student has issues with his teeth - each class he is missing a different tooth and the one missing from the class prior has found it's way back into his mouth. It's like oral dominos...
Afternoons have become daycare at work - the parents drop them off, they terrorize us for an hour and then we send them on their way - I really wish we had a playground to send them to since I have become the official new jungle gym and I swear if more child tries to pants me while they others are hangin on like bats - I'll loose it!

The only good thing about the parents is the tend to bring us gifts - probably as a pleading thank you for taking care of the little monsters for an hour so they can breathe....but they are pretty good snacks - I must say Japanese women are pretty good bakers. It funny though since every girl in Japan seems to be on somekind of diet, the managers give me all the food and make sure that I eat it so it looks as though we all have partaken in the gifts. Let's just say that Godiva gets old after a while..

I have found that Japanese people are seriously hypercondriatic....every time they get a bump - see the doctor, have a head ache - see a doctor, have a hangnail - see a doctor. It's almost on the verge of being ridiculous - and the funny part is they tell me to go all the time, but I won't have any idea what the doctor is telling me anyways....He will probably tell me it's just a cold, but with my lack of Japanese skills - I'll probably think he's tell me I have Leukemia...

I was pretty bummed last week when Pride happened in Seattle - it's pretty much my favorite holiday weekend (yes, I made it a national holiday) because I can be ridiculous, dance until the wee hours of the morning, drink myself crazy, do unladylike things out in public and wear whatever I think is appropriate clothing. The pride in Tokyo is going to be a lot less exciting I'm sure - I'm guessin the crowd might swell to 50 by the middle of the event - they will have floats made of rice, rainbow kimonos, asian tourists and me...on a my underwear...happy Pride/Fourth!