Oct 19, 2011

Monjayaki Adventure

Last Saturday i met up with Gaki-chan in Ueno after work (which wasn't actually work because the only student that day ended up not showing up).  We walked around chatting, looked at costumes in ドンキホーテ (Don Quijote), and took purikura while waiting for another UW friend to come pick us up.  Komo-chan picked us up in his parent's cute red Beetle, and took us over to Roppongi for dinner.  Neither G-chan nor i had ever tried monjayaki before so we decided to do that.  My favourite Japanese food for sure is okonomiyaki, and monjayaki i guess is the "Tokyo version" of it, though it's a lot less solid than okonomiyaki, and to be honest a lot less appetizing-looking.  To be blunt it kinda looks like someone just threw up on the table.

But i'll tell you what, if only throw up tasted so good!

I'll stop with that now.  I'm sure no one will want to try it with a description like that.

It got Gaki-chan's stamp of approval too!

Oh, the purikura machine spit out some fake eyelashes with our pictures (why??), and the guys were both good sports and modeled them for me.

We followed the monjayaki with good-old okonomiyaki, then finally some yaki-soba.  After eating we walked down the street to a club, but not before stopping in to the really exciting Don Quijote to try on the Halloween hats they had on display.

So festive!

Bit blurry, but the lights kept changing color.  It looked awesome!  And for some reason kind of makes me think of the Cell Block Tango, from Chicago.

 And this is completely unrelated to anything, but i still laugh every time i look at this:

Oct 18, 2011

Things I (Dis)Like About Japan

I wrote before a "Things I Like About Japan".  There are a lot of things here that i like, but still, no place is perfect, so to keep things balanced i'm also going to post about things i dislike about Japan.

First thing- the lack of clothes driers.

Before coming to Japan, while i was living on my own, i actually did hang-dry my clothes a lot of the time, to save energy/electricity/money.  But when it's rainy or extremely windy outside, or in the winter when the days are extremely cold, hang-drying sucks.  You hang your clothes up outside because it's sunny, but a freak storm blows in and gets everything wet.  Or the wind simply picks up and blows your clothes to the ground and they need to be washed again.  Or in the dead of winter it takes ages for anything to dry and the shirt you hoped to wear is still damp the next day.
But still, the majority of people here don't use driers, and most apartments will have a washer but no drier.  So, on days like those mentioned above (in the case of this past Saturday, my laundry day, it was rainy) you have to get creative with your hanging and end up with clothes and various linens up all around the house.

Towels hanging above the washer
Futon mattress cover hung between two chairs
Futon blanket cover tied up in the window
Clothes hanging in the window, and futon mattress and blanket draped over the couch

Oct 17, 2011

In my abscence

Oh the times we live in.. depending on technology for everything.  Being without internet for almost 2 weeks was pretty tough.  Not only did i feel really disconnected from my friends/family/the world, but i was really. stinking. bored!
Now, what did i do with myself before the days of the internet?  (Saying that makes me feel kinda old... "Aah yes, i remember those days before the World Wide Web!") 

Well, i'd play video/computer games (i always remember having a computer, even before the net... we had games on floppy disks!!)- while i have my DS with me i only have a couple games, and i did play Oregon Trail once on the laptop, but i don't have any other computer games with me.

I'd read- and i did.  I have a short novel in Japanese that a friend lent me (「蛇にピアス」, "Snakes and Earrings" if you're interested.  It's been pretty cool so far, but i'm only 1/4 of the way through).  Reading kanji though is still a bitch and it's very time-consuming.  I didn't bring any books with me from the US (aside from a textbook) due to the fact that i'd have to haul them all with me across the country, so most of the reading i do is on the internet..

I also did a lot of drawing and writing back in the day too.  I always had a notebook with me and was working on writing some story or book or other.  I wish i still had the same imagination/creativity that i used to.. I did do a sketch in my sketchbook the other week.  I've realized i really miss drawing.  It sorta died once i entered University and that sort of ate up my life.  I keep finding myself wishing that i'd brought my PrismaColor pencils and Bristol board with me..

Play with friends- which i did on occasion the past couple weeks.  Met up with my old housemates on the 9th.  One of the guys does Thai massage so he had a little demo that we all went to at a nearby public city center building.  Thing.  Then after that we all went and bought food to bring back to the guesthouse and we all watched The Princess Bride!  That movie never gets old.  "Mawwige!  Mawwige is what bwings us togevah, today!"  "Have you the wing?"

Watch movies- i definitely did plenty of that!  Coming home from work at night and not really having much to do to kill time, most nights i did dinner and a movie.  I was afraid i would have to go through all my movies, then would have to re-watch them all over and over and over..  Got through Lord of the Rings Pt.1 (would've watched the rest of them, but for some reason i only have 1 and 3, so i put off watching 3 until i can find 2 somewhere..), Dances With Wolves, Heathers, Wayne's World 2, and Wristcutters.

Watch TV- Definitely couldn't do that.. no TV here!  I might invest in a little one eventually.  Maybe.  I did watch an episode of Rugrats (omg, so nostalgic!) that i had downloaded last year to my laptop.  The Passover Episode, i love it.

What did you do for fun or in your free time, before there was internet?

First night of Dinner and a Movie.  That curry was bomb, if i do say so myself!  Lasted for 3 dinners too.  Gotta love curry

In a moment of extreme boredom, i discovered some exciting and silly photo options on my phone, so spent a while taking silly pictures too:

Silly Glasses Only

There was an option where the phone would take six to nine pictures in rapid succession, so i had fun trying to see how many different expressions i could get in at once.  Here are just a couple of those- me in all of my un-makeuped, pajama'ed glory.  Also, these made me realize just how ginormous my eyes really are.  I guess it doesn't help that i was opening them really wide anyway..
Found this when i went to the convenience store with the old housemates.  We all agreed that this tea sounds rather naughty.  And for some reason whenever i see this picture i get that "Sex on the Beach" song stuck in my head, except that it goes "Break! Break! Break on the desk!" And then i see my crazy Korean friend KJ doing his "Sex on the Beach" dance, in my head.  Same as the guy from the video, but with much more exaggerated pelvic thrusts, lol.  By the way, Break on the Desk would be an awesome name for a cocktail, if it's not already!

Oct 15, 2011

I'm baaaaack!

Oh my God,

All i'm going to say is i hope Mr. Laptop had a good rest, because he's not going to get shut off for a while!  I was actually going to head over to McDonald's today, because they supposedly have wifi.  Well, when i woke up this morning around 8:30 (all on my own, shock!  See, being without internet has left me bored enough to get me to bed before midnight most nights.  I actually like this routine, we'll see if i can't keep it up~) i went and turned on my laptop like i always do in the hopes that there will be a connection.  First boot-up, no go.  Restarted once and low and behold, we have contact!  I even whistled a little "Hallelujah" tune.  Or maybe i was actually excited enough to sing it.

Anyway, a long-past-due post!  Sorry it is so long and uninteresting and un-picture-ful.

October 4, 2011

Just as predicted, the laptop isn't connecting to the internet again, yay!  So now for another pre-typed entry to upload when i can get connected again.

I never really talked in detail about my job.  I don't think it's that interesting to talk about but maybe some of you might be interested.  I work at a small hoikushitsu (also more commonly called hoikuen), which most people take to mean preschool/kindergarten, but the place i work at is really more like a daycare.  None of the kids are older than three years old.  Right now there are three babies under a year old, and then about five kids between one and three years old.  In the early afternoons when i go into work i usually help in the baby's room- reading to them, playing with them, putting them down for naps, consoling them when they get fussy, etc..  It's quite a lot of fun, actually.  The youngest right now is about 6 or 7 months and she's the only girl in the baby room, so she's gotten the nickname of The Princess, or The Queen (a couple times she's even been called The King, lol.  I don't know why though).  With such royal titles it's natural that she'd act like a princess or a queen, and that she does!  She won't take any milk whatsoever.  No formula from a bottle, no milk pumped from her mom in a bottle.. we even tried giving her both formula and breast milk from a spoon, and that was a no-go as well.  It was rather sad, because she would be so hungry and cranky and inconsolable (my poor ears!) but just wouldn't eat.  That went on for the first few days she was with us, until we finally tried giving her some okayu, which is just a soft watery rice porridge, and that was finally a success.  She's still pretty cranky most of the time, but is usually fine if she's being held and bounced around.  That would be all fine with me, except that she is a *big* baby!  Seriously, she looks like a mini sumo wrestler, and we joke (quietly) amongst ourselves about her looking like a big sausage rolling around on the ground (she can't crawl yet, but she's a good roller).  So my arms usually get a good workout with her, trying to get her to stop crying as i stand and swing or bounce her around.  She does like when i sing "Five Little Ducks" to her though, and will usually fall asleep then. :)

Then there are the one-year-and-ups.  They are mostly taken care of by the Japanese teachers, but they get "E-time" with me for about an hour every day.  I know it's not good to pick favourites, but mine is definitely little R-kun.  He's about two years old, i think, and is definitely the most out-going of all the kids, and always smiles at me when i come into the room and is the first to approach me with his toys or books for me to play with or read to him.  He's also easily consoled by being picked up and taken to the window to look at the ブッブー driving by (bubbuu.. that's the kid's word for car in Japanese, the sound the horn makes).  He's always the last to be picked up by his family too, usually between 6 or 7pm, so if there aren't any adult lessons in the evening i'm down there with one of the other teachers keeping him entertained.  Last night he'd run over to the bookshelf, pick out a book, run over to me holding it out, then sit on my lap for me to read it to him.  He's adorable!  We probably with through almost 10 books, haha.

So the baby's room and toddler's room are both on one floor of the building, and the floor above is kind of the 'grown-ups' area.  There's the kitchen, our boss' desk, our lockers, etc..  This is also the room where the adult English lessons are held.  From 5pm to 8pm we have English lessons for adults, mostly.  There are a couple elementary school and junior high school students, as well as a couple university students as well.  Most of the people who take the lessons are acquaintances of my boss, and they're all really nice people.  Lessons are usually pretty simple, since most of them are pretty low-level English.  Sometimes it's all just conversation, sometimes it's half conversation then we do some sort of exercise like flashcards, grammar worksheets, or whatever appeals to them and fits their level.  To be honest i just wing it most of the time.  I'm really not cut out to be a teacher, i've realized, haha.  And with no actual training i still feel kind of lost sometimes.  With the little kids it's just fine.  I bring them some books and read to them and play with them and that's good enough.  But with the adults, they're actually paying for these lessons so i feel like i have to give them a good lesson and teach them something to make it worth their time and money.  Although the lessons are super cheap compared to all the big corporate English schools out there, so it's definitely not anywhere near as demanding as it would be working for one of those companies, and i'm very glad for that.  Last night there was only one lesson with one of the regular ladies, Mrs. Y, who seems to really like me, always calling me Mei-chan and smiling when she sees me.  She's an elementary school teacher and recently started bringing one of her colleagues in for lessons with me, because she thought her colleague would enjoy them too.  Yesterday she also brought her daughter for the first time, who's in college training to be a nurse.  I guess she had been trying to convince her daughter to come for a while too, so that does make me feel good that at least some of the students are enjoying their time with me and are bringing their friends. :)  Mrs. Y's colleague told me last night that one of her colleagues also wants to come, because she had mentioned how "cute" i am so now he wants to some see me.. haha, awkward!

Then there are my coworkers.  My boss, Mr. Big Bear, is a really nice older man, very laid-back and easy-going.  In my head i've started calling him Papa Bear, because he has this kind of fatherly attitude with all of us and with the kids there too.  Then there's Mama Ann, as i've taken to calling her in my head.  She's from the Philippines, and from the very first day she kinda took me under her wing, told me that if i had any questions or trouble or needed anything to come to her.  "We understand each other," she had told me, "we're both foreigners you know."  Although she's been in Japan for about 10 years, so she's a lot more in the know about everything, and she's very outgoing too, which i enjoy.  She knows it too.  "I'm very forward," she says.  She says whatever's on her mind, and that's rather refreshing here where a lot of people tend to be very reserved.  She gives us all good laughs.  But she does really look out for me, and is always sneaking me snacks and chocolates in between taking care of the kids and cleaning and lessons, haha..  "Here, Mei-chan, hurry eat this!" as she shoves some sort of snack at me.  Then there's M-sensei, who's second-in-charge behind Mr. Big Bear.  She's very nice too, and always makes an effort to talk to me and include me in conversations, even though my speaking level is still shit.  She seems to genuinely appreciate my presence and efforts there, which is nice for me.  Then there are the two teachers who take care of the toddlers.  I don't really get to talk to them often since i really only see them when i have English time with the kids, or if there are no adult English lessons and i'm down there with one of them when the other leaves early.  They're nice enough, but not as easy to talk to as M-sensei or Mr. Big Bear.  There are also a few other teachers/cooks that i only get to see in passing since they work in the early morning and leave shortly after i arrive.  They're all very nice to me, greet me and chat with me as i'm coming and they're going.

So, for now i'm quite happy with where i'm at.  The pay isn't as good as what i could be getting elsewhere, but as i've said before i'd much prefer a good working atmosphere to a huge salary.  I'm good at living minimally, and good at saving, so it's definitely just fine for me.

That got to be quite a novel about my job, and with no pictures either, i apologize!  I would love to adorn this post with pictures of the adorable kids i teach, but we're not allowed to take pictures of them, for safety reasons which i totally understand.  I did get one picture of Baby R-kun (a different R-kun than the one i mentioned.. this one is one of the under-one-year babies, the first baby i met on my first day there, and he's very adorable!  Again, not nice to pick favourites but he's my favourite baby~) on my cell phone, when i was told that we couldn't take pictures.  Though i secretly sent it to my email before i deleted it, so i could have it for my memories.  Still, won't be posting that though, sorry!

Oct 3, 2011

So this may be good bye for a while

Contemplating leaving my laptop on forever, since i'm afraid that once i turn him off he won't be able to connect to the internet again for weeks like before...
But well, here's one more post before that happens then!

For dinner tonight i attempted some Korean bibimbap, with quite successful results if i do say so myself!  I wanted to use up some of the veggies in my fridge, so i julienned some carrots and cucumber, sauted some spinach with sesame oil and soy sauce, marinated some sliced tofu in a mix of soy sauce, sugar and ginger, arranged all that on top of some rice, and finished off with a fried egg and some sweet chili sauce all mixed in.  Usually it's a raw egg, but that's just a bit too... egckh! for me.  Also chili paste is more traditional, but i had sweet chili sauce so that was good enough for me.
The results-


In the words of Brenda Dickson, absolutely delicious.

A little bright spot at work today- was reading a counting book with the little three-year-old girl in the toddler's room, and got her to count up to six.  A few minutes later she was sitting off on her own and counting all her stuffed Pooh-chans.  In English!  Cue me being overly exciting and high-fiving her.  :)  Totally made my day.
Off to bed now.
Well, after a couple more Youtube videos.
In a Korean mood after my dinner, so i leave you with this-

Baby good night, sexy dreams all.

Oct 2, 2011

Ohh, technology!

((Wrote this up last night while i didn't have any connection to the internet.  L, my laptop (yes, i name my electronics, and yes, he is named after L from Death Note because i'm a nerd like that he's awesome.. L is, not my laptop) is actually being good now and connecting to my wifi, so he may not have to be replaced after all!  Yet.  *knocks on wood*))

Oct. 2nd

Well, my neighbors decided to stop being nice and sharing their internets with me and since L is old and cranky and won't connect to my own wifi, and won't even let me use Microsoft Word anymore either, i'm typing this up on WordPad and will get around to posting it whenever i can get access to internet.  Time to start shopping for a new laptop, sadly..  In the meantime i'll have to hunt down a manga/internet cafe or something, or wait until next weekend when i head up to the guesthouse for Princess Bride movie night with my old housemates to post this.

This weekend, compared to last, was rather quiet and lonely.  Friday i did domestic-y household things, like laundry and dishes, and airing out my futon.  I was told that you need to air out your futon occasionally so it doesn't get all mildewy.  Don't know how often it's supposed to be done (or if it really does absolutely need to be done..) but on Fridays when i do laundry i hang it out over the balcony for a few hours of fresh air.  I'm just waiting for the day that i forget about it and it starts pouring and gets soaked, or gets blown away or something.
After the laundry was washed and hung out to dry i walked to the next station over to have a look at the Halloween decorations at Daiso.  The selection was rather small but i did get a couple things like a little stuffed pumpkin, black cat, and a big glittery pumpkin window sticker!  Unfortunately all of my windows (except on the sliding doors in my room) are textured glass, so Mr. Pumpkin wouldn't stick on them and i was resigned to putting him on my fridge, so now when i'm on my laptop, anytime i look up he's staring at me with his black soul-less eyes and doofy toothless smile.
Well herro!
Saturday was work.  This was the first Saturday that we started doing English, since before it was always just Monday through Friday.  My boss decided to start doing it on Saturdays too since some people who were interested in doing English lessons were too busy during the week.  It went well, and the last two students cancelled so we got to leave early, which was good as i was quite tired and was having a hard time stifling my yawns during lessons!  I wasn't able to get to sleep until after 3am, and then just before 5am my phone started ringing.  Very confused and disoriented i answered it.  It was one of my Korean friends KJ, calling from his friend's phone, but the whole time i thought it was his friend who until that point i had only messaged with and never actually talked to.  The whole conversation was crazy and disjointed and was just a big jumble of Japanese and English and Korean (i communicate with KJ and his friend in Japanese, since i know 2 words of Korean, and their English is limited to swears lol) and the whole time i was thinking "Geeze this guy is just as freaking nuts as KJ!"  Who is indeed freaking nuts.  I think the "conversation" went on for almost 20 minutes, and ended with me still very confused, until i got a message right afterward from KJ's friend saying "Sorry about that, KJ is drunk..."  To which i wrote back, "Oh wait, that wasn't you?"  It all made sense then, why nothing made sense, haha!  Anyway, because of that ordeal i wasn't able to fall back asleep until around 6am, then had to get up for work a few hours later.  Hooray for drunken calls at obscene hours!
After work i headed to the old guesthouse for the Welcome Back party being held for 'Boston' who had been gone for a month visiting family and friends back in the US.  It was the first time since i moved that i had been back.  It was fun, and was good to see everyone again and hang out.  After the party a few of us went out for more drinks, although most of us just settled for tea or juice. 

Today was rather uneventful too, but it was nice to relax a bit.  Late afternoon i headed over to the station to have a look at the big department store inside, and also went into a few shops on the east side of the station too, to look for a Halloween costume.  Didn't find what i was looking for (not that i would've been able to buy it today anyway!) but it was still fun to get out and look around.  I did find some Halloween garland that i'll go back and buy if i have left-over grocery money this week, and i did indulge in some Halloween KitKats, because i just couldn't pass them up!  I mean Pumpkin Cheese Cake flavoured, come on.  Could you have passed them up??  Okay, i'm sure you could've, but as for me, i'm a sucker for pumpkin-flavoured things.  And cheese cake is just as delicious.

Hmm, i think they'll have to go in the fridge though.  I kept glancing over at them as i was writing, trying to resist, but i just ate another one.  Gotta make them last at least a little bit!
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