Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanks_giving

Narita bound on ANA 5, goin' 434 mph, 34000 feet in the air. Estimated time of arrival is 4:41 p.m. Tokyo time, and I'm freaking out a little because my connecting flight to Fukouka boards at 5:20. Is that enough time?? The plane has to taxi, I have to claim my baggage, clear security and customs, and somehow navigate Narita airport and find the Fukuoka gate. I hope there are enough signs in English and there are enough passengers in the same predicament so the plane doesn't leave without us. I don't care that I'm in row 25, I'm gonna be the first one on the tarmac.

Tangental thought: Airplane/airport jargon is so fun.

Tangental thought 2: My seat is two rows behind the lavatories and the aerospace smells like noxious, intermingling fart. Circulated air is not fun in this metal tube.

Anyway, I've been home for the last 10 days and it was like L.A. on speed--the pace and the drug. It was exhilarating seeing family and friends after my year away and eating like a king, but there were mornings where I woke up feeling completely disgusting AND disgusted by myself. I'm about five pounds heavier, my liver has a death wish against me, I'm chronically somnolent, and my chest pain has come back. And that's the just physical stuff. I've depleted mentally and morally. I don't know what's worse, spending time with Hollywood douches or realizing you've become one yourself. I will rep' L.A. till I die, this city is so...indescribable. It's a city of contrasts. Freeways that take you anywhere in twenty minutes if they weren't gridlocked for hours. Fast-slow, decadence-indigence, natural-artificial. It's vast but you feel like you're in a vacuum sometimes and I got sucked into it for this past week, sucked lifeless and I'm tired and I'm dying to go back to quiet, clean, polite Japan in my little nest I've built for the last year in lil' Bepp'. The only thing that stays the same in L.A. is the sunny weather and I'm not looking forward to the blistering winter weather Nippon-side.

Since Thanksgiving just passed, I'm gonna use da Beat to verb the holiday to my homies in the West side, wut-wut. This goes out to:

Mom, thanks for being my favorite person in the world and giving me my second favorite person in the world, my little sister Jessica. I am an annoying brat who can be self-destructive and incredibly insensitive and you've loved me selflessly every second of my life and I know it better now than ever.

Cousins Eunice, Bryan, Heather, Kenny, Jasper (even though you weren't in LA!), Jasmine, Milton, and Juan (my new cousin in law!) thanks for being my brothers and sisters from other mothers and misters who understand me better than anyone else. You're all welcome to ruin my wedding reception.

Aunts Yatyat, 2yema, 3yema, Maymay, 6yee, thank you for being my other mothers. When I grow up I want to be like you.

Jo, thanks for being more excited about my homecoming than I was and reserving me in that so super exclusive spot in your crazy life! Thanks for letting us be best friends all over again.

Kan, I don't think I've ever told you how much I appreciate your selflessness and your kindness. And for showing me that burrito joint.

Steph, Jess, Kyrsti thanks for letting me live vicariously through your Westchester lives again. If I ever want a reckless night of fun I know who to call. It never feels good waking up hungover on a couch on a Wednesday morning but I wouldn't do it for anyone else.

And thanks to Jeannette, Tasha, Michelle, Ray, Lauren, Amber, Jean, Bob, James and Annie for keeping me in your lovely company this trip back.

I will see you all Summer 2010.

Monday, October 5, 2009

HA!

This picture is inappropriate. Whatever.


I'm tellin' ya, October's gonna be than September.

Friday, October 2, 2009

perfect 10

Hello October. Even though it rained all day today, and even though I found myself drinking wine by myself in my apartment last night, You will be significantly better than September because September sucked a lot and any other month would be hard pressed to surpass its suckiness. September was the worst September I could remember in ages, and that's pretty bad because September is usually when the new school year starts after summer, you know, back when I had to go to school and all. I have high hopes for You, October. Don't fuck me over like how that little bitch September did.

I hope you all have good Octobers too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

KIDS SUCK

WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH JAPANESE CHILDREN??? 

There's this OBSESSION with infiltrating other people's private body parts. Have you ever been kancho'd?? That's "child induced enema" to those who don't speak Japanese. Clasp your hands together, fold down your last three fingers, you now have a lethal anal weapon to pugnaciously thrust into any ass hole you please, as many times you can get away with.  They think it's funny. It's not. One kid slapped my breasts and called "oppai sensei" or "breast teacher" for the duration of the entire hour-long lesson and has called me oppai sensei every subsequent lesson thereafter. Kids shout "chin-chin" (penis) through the whole lesson. And this is not just little shits, a TEENAGE student GRABBED my boob once after lessons. I was probably that burgeoning pervert's first post-pubescent boob, and he probably wanks off to it as I type. You know what you're doing when you're 14 years old. 

I think I hate the parents more than the kids for raising such stupid, disrespectful children. They're dangerous too. My students wear name tags that are attached to their clothing with bobby pins, and some will wave the pointy end around recklessly, trying to poke each others' eyes out because kids are such vengeful brats. I've had a kid throw magnets into every corner of the room, including the small space behind the television set, and in his effort to retrieve the magnets he almost tips over the set, and had I not seen it in time, it would have landed directly onto another child's head. Shitty Japanese kids are bad, but nothing's worse than a dead, shitty Japanese kid. And their silent killers! Their diseases! DIRTY, GERMY, SNOT KIDS. I think they're all out to get me. I think my tonsillitis is coming back.   

It's funny when you're in school and sometimes you might think your teachers are out to get you, well, now I know they are. I'm out to get you, it's my defense mechanism so you can't get to me first. 
 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

sea change

The date on this post is actually September 10th. I'm continuing on an earlier draft from August 25th that I never "published", but it's funny how you know in your gut that life will just pull the chair from right under ya, and you're on the floor, pissing and moaning about your ass hurting even though you saw it all coming:


I'm stooping on someone else's apartment right now and feelin' zen. The weather has been less-Oprah's armpit lately. There's really no point to this post, more free write than anything. 

August has been a strange month, and now that it's about to end I feel an approaching sea change.  I'm applying for an internship in Hong Kong. I mean, it's gonna be tough to get but I'm optimistic. Actually, I want it fucking badly. And just the act of thinking about leaving has me all contemplative. Getting it means I'll have to leave Japan. Leaving everything I've known and grown accustomed to for the last nine months and starting over again, again. As much as I try to act spontaneous and free-spirited, I'm naturally a creature of habit, and change is plain unnerving. 


So yeah, as predicted, a lot has changed and I'm going to summon the reserves to pick myself back up again. I haven't heard from Hong Kong yet and as much as I want it, it doesn't matter if I don't, there will be other jobs. What has my wheels spinnin' is the whole idea of leaving. I'm not happy here anymore. Japan is starting to wear on me. 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

tranquil

At the very end of my tonsillitis post I mentioned my chest hurt. Turns out that the month-long pain around my left boob was just imaginary, said Bubbe, requoting the diagnosis from the doctor's visit last Monday. 

IMAGINARY? Explain! 

This is what I understood from her translation: Taking deep breaths are not good for you. 

What?? 

Yes, she said. You're stressed out and taking really big breaths unconsciously. Big breaths cause superfluous intake of CO2 and that causes the pain in my chest. Just relax and the pain will go away. 

I said, well that's a relief. 

And then the doctor prescribed me some pills, pills that were described in Bubbe's Japanese-to-English dictionary as "tranquilizers." Fantastic. I'm on them right now and feel better already. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

it's alive

This last week has been punctuated by moot stress. I have convincing evidence my hair thinned a bit during this time. For nothing! 


The following is a long keitai-mail I sent my dear friend Joe this morning.  It sums up what I've been up to lately. 


"I had a minor nervous breakdown a moment ago when my ipod wouldn't turn on. my laptop's dead already, i woulda jumped on the next plane home if i lost the tunes too. it came back to the light after frantic power-button cpr. i curse japan and my appliance dependency. oh home! ive had sooo many lost in translation moments lately, especially transportation. i usually call the office so they'll get a taxi for my taxi school but THEY WERE CLOSED BECAUSE IT WAS SUNDAY. hmm funny...i guess SUNDAYS ARENT WORK DAYS UNLESS YOU ARE AN NT. so i called my own taxi somehow just repeating hachiji over and over to the receiving end and luckily a taxi came at 8. then [the company] fucked up my train tickets and i had to cancel them and buy new ones, literally scraped the bottom of my purse for the yens to pay for it with a minute left b4 the last train leaves. fri night after work i had to pretend to fall asleep once i got on the train bc i only had enough to pay for the stop before. the ticket guy pushed me awake once he realized i 'slept' past my stop and i faked 'HONTO?!?' he bought it and i ran off once the train stopped and jumped the wicket. i want my car = (" 


Chronologically, "week of unnecessary stress" starts with coming home to a comatose laptop. Macky-B had been purchased only a year and a half ago and I never download anything, so until then it was running like any other shiny new toy. So when the damn thing wouldn't turn on after numerous attempts I was devastated. In a place where nothing's familiar, a pitch black screen can be one of the most daunting. Slipped into transience was not only my DVD, music player, but also all those photos, videos, term papers, etc that had been stored in non-backed up fashion (who actually does that anyway?).  If this sounds anything like my lost-Internet post all the ways back in Beppu Beat time, it was actually way worse. It's like waking up, finding your arm (which was all good and army every day since fetal development) on the floor, not knowing how your arm detached and made itself useless, and being fucked over with the whole attachment bit. Okay, it might not be THAT bad, but my MacBook became laptopy carcass. I was busy every day from work so I had no time take it somewhere to get it fixed. On the upside, it being gone meant I had more time to study for the GREs, play lotsa guitar, get lotsa reading done, and I had an excuse to not reply to mounting emails (or compose blog entries). Freedom from material attachment...yadayada. 


(All's well though! I was thisclose to sending it to Apple, but I'm typing on the little shit-tease right now! After floating in purgatory for a week, it decided to come back to life! I still probably wont get to all those emails in due time. Oh, I love my pretty little Mac.) 


At the same time the company's dreaded Summer School kicked off. I'll gloss over that; I hate talking about work. Basically for eight straight days my life consisted of scuttling for about 12 hours a day. It was awful, I'm beyond glad it's over and now I can go back to my job sucking as usual. 


So after a bad week everything is right in the world now, woohoo, I've learned nothing from this and I'm still stuck in Kyushu. 

Friday, July 24, 2009

mommy dearest

So about a month ago what started off as a routine sore throat soon developed into an actual pain in the neck, one the size and consistency of an average walnut lodged right below my left jaw. It felt like I was shot in the face. The medley of accompanied symptoms included vicious headaches, a high fever, the chills, and my defeated, pathetic sick puppy of a self, bemoaning illness. I might have exaggerated the pain to anyone within earshot to gain unsolicited pity, but you're allowed to when you're sick. I cursed and casted blame on my filthy students for thinking it's funny to lick and sneeze all over an otherwise healthy sensei.  


Had I been at home I would have just weakly exasperated to Mom who would have cured me before I could even say lickity. But you can imagine how it's way more difficult here, especially if you only have enough language skills to order food off a menu with pictures. It would have saved me a lot of pain if going to the doctor consisted of pointing to an illustrated menu of symptoms and saying please.   


Friends suggested I should "probably go get that checked out." I'm aware I should have. But I had several reservations. The most minor being I didn't want to use up my sick days while I was actually sick. The most pressing was not knowing where to "go" to "go get that checked out" and having no idea how to communicate the "that" of "probably go get that checked out" even if I found the place to go. And incredible pain and discomfort aside, even if I did jump those locational and verbal hurdles (I could have just asked for directions to a hospital, found a nurse and pointed at the protrusion on my neck) there was then the price of good health. I aint insured, hun! Crossing my fingers that I would heal on own my was appealingly free of charge! It's so much more fun spending yens on things other than doctor's fees and prescription mediation. 

  

So my stubbornly stupid or stupidly stubborn self settled on self-medication. I tested Mom-approved home remedies, but I soon learned that eating healthy, gargling salt water, and sipping hot lemonade and honey only works if it's administered by your doting mother during a mild cold. And I guess taking six Advils every few hours numbed the pain but it didn't actually improve the situation. Seeking some sort of answer, I tried diagnosing myself on the Internet (which I now believe causes acute hypochondria) but Googling ambiguous search terms like "sore throat" and "pain in the neck" led me to believe my ailment could be any number of peculiar diseases. Goitres, cancerous lymph nodes, thyroid malfunction (never mind that mostly pre-menopausal women suffer from that)! Oh my! 


I think the hardest part to being sick is admitting you need help. It took me awhile but I finally accepted I was sick and not getting any better. I reached a feeble hand to my cell phone and called the one person who could help me, a mother. My sympathetic Japanese Okaasan eagerly whisked me to a throat doctor, patiently helped me translate my pain, instructed me to open my jaw as requested by the doctor, explained to me that I caught tonsillitis after the doctor's inspection (TONSILLITIS!! I SHAKE MY FIST AT THOSE THOSE BASTARD CHILDREN!), dealt with all the administrative stuff, and showed me how to swallow the meds. She stopped short of wiping my ass. My swollen, bacteria-laden salivary glands went back to being unobtrusive in about a week. I was back to my genki self.     


There's probably a lesson in this. My chest hurts. 

Monday, July 6, 2009

"what's wrong with me?"

I realized the other day I'm only as neurotic as the book I'm reading. Not good because, one, I thought all this time I had something of my own intrinsic personality, and secondly, since I'm reading "The Corrections", I'm currently depressingly, obsessively analytical. This entry has taken me an hour to write.  

Saturday, June 27, 2009

all those bugs busy buzzing 'round

I HATE JAPANESE VERMIN. I feel like I'm in a Brobdingnag voyage---they're huge! I saw a spider the size of my hand one night, hanging out on the bathroom tiles welcoming me to be petrified by it. The fuckers are surfacing everywhere in this humidity. I counted at least eight large spiders and one Big Daddy sunning themselves and being all spider-like on Nakatsu school's front door. I entered and exited through the back door the whole week to avoid contact. ANDANDAND!!! MOSQUITOS ARE EVERYWHERE AND THEY LOVE CHINESE FOOD. I lose sleep over them because I hear them. They wake me up from slumber, mockingly buzzing near my ear, tummies full of my blood. One morning I woke up with seven bites all over my body. My largest accumulated mosquito-bite-total stands at 11. It looked like I had leprosy. 

A few months back I saw the first harbinger of the upcoming months' insect infestation---ROADKILL CENTIPEDE, guts and all festering about. If you can see an insect's insides, you know it's big. I wondered aloud if was some deranged kid's house pet that escaped, because nothing that mortifying could naturally surface from the ground. There are plenty of (less) creepy-crawlies like ants or ladybugs roaming around already. I insisted to my sanity that the centipede was a renegade pet an unpleasant person kept as testament to their strangeness, like people who raise iguanas or keep bats in cages or whatever. But NO, I WAS WRONG. CENTIPEDES ARE EVERYWHERE. I saw another one recently sauntering across the road as if it's were allowed to be exposed to human sight, that asshole! I ran away and screamed bloody murder. What what was it doing walking on my sidewalk?? What was it doing breathing my air??  

If I wasn't so scared of them I would smash every insect to pieces or obliterate them all nuclearly--but I have a feeling radiation exposure would just cause them to mutate, grow larger, and spiteful of humans. I think the first atomic bomb caused them to grow this large in the first place. 

Can insects read? I now have a slight irrational fear they will kill me in my sleep for posting this.  

Monday, June 8, 2009

potty mouth

This entry was inspired by last week's bathroom banter with a coworker at an izakaya. Without going into too much detail--I peed, I wiped, I postured, then I hollered to the next stall over:

"WHY DO ALL JAPANESE WOMEN FOLD THE FUCKING TOILET PAPER INTO A TRIANGLE?!"

After said holler, a fit of giggles surfaces from a bystander. Twas an English-speaking Japanese woman! So I doth implore: "WHYWHYWHHYY must you make me feel bad for not folding the toilet paper into a triangle after I use it?" 

She replieth: "Because I get bored when I go pee!" 

"Oh...does it matter if I can't fold it back as neatly as I found it?"  

She continued giggling. I think she was too polite to tell me that I probably shouldn't bother. 

Thus begins The Beat's Japanese bathroom enigma analysis (for women at least). Only in Japan would urination merit a proper blog entry.


Enigma-1: Toilet paper triangles. 

Toilet paper triangle in an upscale hotel, sure. Toilet paper triangle at the communal in Starbucks, whyy? It's a nice gesture, but I don't need your help to find the end of the roll. I don't want to think about your grimy hands delicately folding a perfectly symmetrical toilet paper triangle while I'm peeing. I don't want to feel guilty for not folding the toilet paper back into a triangle so the next person can conveniently wipe too. If you're doing it just because you're bored, as in the aforementioned anecdote, why don't you bring a book instead? 


Enigma-2: Bathroom slippers are always worn in the bathroom. 

Fair enough for the Eastern-style toilets, which is basically just a hole in the floor you squat over (where bodily excrement could splash about if you can't aim well) but why are the ubiquitous slippers found in Western-style bathrooms as well? I wont launch a scientific study comparing the amount of floor bacteria in the respective rooms, but I'm betting the Japanese style floors have way more icks and ews. There really is no reason to protect your feet while using a Western toilet, actual Westerners sure don't. I venture to guess that Japanese people are so used to wearing footwear in bathrooms that they carried it over to the Western counterpart. This segues to to...


Enigma-3: If the Japanese are so afraid of possible unsanitary exposures, then where are the damn toilet seat covers? 

I'm a squatter. I will never EVER sit on a public toilet seat, who knows what combination of fuck's on the seat, and if there is only one other squatter like me it merits my hover. After living here for 6 months, I now prefer the floor toilet over the seat for public peeing. I'm gonna say it's actually more sanitary to squat over the floor because there's a bigger surface area to aim pee versus the smaller circumference of a seat. Plus, less porcelain-to-skin contact is desirable. So if the Japanese wear slippers to protect their feet, why don't they have seat covers to protect their exposed ass? They don't hover; them women actually sit on the seat, even on public toilets! I don't get it! It seems to be a cultural attitude that naked skin is always clean. This brings me back to a doctor's visitation a few months ago when I was asked to change into a robe and sit bare assed on the wax-paper-less examination table. Perhaps hundreds of actual diseased patients are screened on that table!! But there it was, a pleathered, germy, cushioned table. I shuddered, held my tongue for sake of cultural sensitivity and carried on. What was I talking about again?


Enigma-4: The automated flush sound. 

I love those nifty washlets with aim-accurate bidets, sprays, and charming musical tones as much as the next foreigner. Some of those toilets even have automated deodorizers that make your ones and twos smell like spring flowers! BUT, I'll never understand why there's an option to play the built-in flush sound when it makes the actual flush sound when you, well, actually flush. 


That's about all I have to say about that. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Live from the 5th floor of Santoraru Pirie building.

Instead of the usual parking lot post, I have found a wifi nook conveniently situated right by the elevator of my floor; three bars of perfectly communal, delicious wifi reception. I don't even need to get out of my pajamas for this lil' spot. Being completely shameless, I relish the increased opportunity to embarrass myself and prove to the whole floor (and the blogworld) how cheap I am. I think I'll download some really graphic pornography and play it on full volume just to add insult to injury. Or maybe I'll Skype someone.  

"Konnichiwa!" Or, the "why yes, I AM squatting in the dirty hallway with my MacBook" face I greet my neighbors with. Hilariously, they seem to be more apologetic for invading my post. 


This is to prove I am indeed in the hallway. That fern sure don't look indoor-sy: 


Friday, May 8, 2009

wifi corner at hiji school

Last night I asked one of my students, "Can you stop fucking suck so much?" He stared at me blankly, carried on fucking sucking, and I realized he won. Next time I'm going to make them dance until they're too tired to be little shits. 

Just off my Tokyo Golden Week high. Back in the Bepp with a one-day weekend that I plan to stockpile with all sorts of fun, continuing my upward (or downward) projectory into similar Tokyo-style unconscious-goodness.

I can't write an entry on Tokyo, I don't think I can sum it up. 

Maybe this picture can.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

survey

I love these survey things. Original survey tag courtesy of Katie Jackson.

FOODOLOGY:

1.) What is your salad dressing of choice?
the one that comes with chinese chicken salad.

2.) What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
don't have one. i dig conveyor belt sushi though.

3.) What food could you eat everyday for 2 weeks & NOT get sick of it?
mexican.

4.) What are your pizza toppings of choice?
only sausage. or only chicken and bacon together. i love eating animals.

5.) What do you like on your toast?
butter and jam. and nutella.


TECHNOLOGY:

1.) How many T.V.'s are in your house?
one but it's unplugged.

2.) What color cell phone do you have?
black and silver.

3.) How long would it take you to look up 'who invented the Rubber Band?
google responded in .24 seconds. william h. spencer.

4.) Have any idea, how many Megahertz your computer has?
no.


BIOLOGY:

1.) Are you right-handed or left-handed?
righty. i want to be a lefty though.

2.) Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
teeth, i guess. nothing major.

3.) What is the last heavy item you lifted?
backpack through tokyo.

4.) Have you ever been knocked out unconscious?
does blacking out from too much alcohol count? that's more like knocking myself out unconcious.

BULLCRAPOLOGY:

1.) If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
no way.

2.) If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
wouldn't want to.

3.) Would you drink an entire bottle of HOT Sauce for $1,000?
absolutely.

DUMBOLOGY:

1.) How many pairs of Flip-Flops do you own?
one.

2.) Last time you had a run-in w/ the cops?
hong kong, day after christmas with my cousin jasmine for peeing on a public building. got away with it because i think they were more embarrassed than we were.

3.) Last person you talked to?
joe on the celly.

4.) Last person you hugged?
greg at oita station last night.

FAVORITOLOGY:

1.) Season?
summer, but only L.A. summers.

2.) Holiday?
don't think i have one but st. patrick's day is moving up there. no other obligation besides drinking and wearing green.

3.) Day of the week?
saturday or sundays in the morning if i'm not hungover from saturday.

4.) Month?
december cause of the birthdays and holidays.


CURRENTOLOGY:

1.) Missing someone?
definitely. a lot.

2.) Mood?
mellow.

3.) What are you listening to?
traffic.

4.) Watching?
nothing.


RANDOMOLOGY:

1.) First place you went this morning?
post office but it was closed.

2.) What's the last movie you saw?
ugh valkyrie.

3.) Do you smile often?
i do. i like smiling.

4.) Sleeping Alone Tonight?
yes.


OTHER-OLOGY:

1.) Do you always answer your phone?
nope. but i always feel guilty when i don't.

2.) It's 4am and you get a 'text' message, who is it?
tristan.

3.) If you could change your eye color, what would it be?
a lighter brown.

4.) What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic?
never had a sonic drink before. i've always wanted to go to one. they don't actually exist, i'm sure of it. they just tease me with their tantalizing commercials.

5.) Do you own a Digital camera?
yeah.

6.) Have you ever had a pet fish?
yeah. the last one was named little kevin and it was kept in the loyolan. there was an office poll on when it would die.

7.) Favorite Christmas song(s)?
i've always liked the one that repeats bells over and over. but the bing crosby, david bowie, little drummer boy is probably my new favorite because it's fucking hilarious.

8.) What's on your wish list for your Birthday?
i want everyone to be happy.

9.) Can you do push-ups?
yup. like 5 before i collapse.

10.) Can you do chin-ups?
half!

11.) Does the future make you nervous or excited?
nervous excitement.

12.) Do you have any saved 'texts'?
nope.

13.) Ever been in a car wreck?
nope. fender benders, yes.

14.) Do you have an accent?
doesn't everyone? i have a southern californian accent.

15.) What is the last song that made you cry?
pale blue eyes, by velvet underground. it was downloaded long ago and came up on shuffle on my iTunes two weeks ago, and it hit me like a boulder. i couldn't move for about 5 minutes after the first time. then i played it like 6 times after.

16.) Plans Tonight?
i have all those ANTM eps and south parks to catch up on. i'm so excited.

17.) Have you ever felt like you hit 'rock-bottom'?
yeah.

18.) Name 3 things you bought yesterday:
beer, chu-hi number one, chu-hi number two.

19.) Have you ever been given roses?
yup.

20.) Current worry?
i need to pee and i have no idea how many more questions are left.

21.) Current hate right now?
nada.

22.) Met someone who changed your life?
of course. everyone i meet does.

23.) How will you bring in the New Year?
not sure yet.

24.) What song represents you?
good question. i'll probably ponder this one for days.

25.) Name three people who might complete this?
no.

26.) Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
sure.

27.) Have you ever dated someone longer than a year?
yes.

28.) Do you have any tattoos/piercings?
four piercings on each ear, but i don't wear earrings anymore.

29.) Will you be in a relationship in 4 months?
yup.

30.) Does anyone love you?
yup.

31.) Ever had someone sing to you?
yes.

32.) When did you last cry?
two days ago. it was the last night in tokyo with paul and joe.

33.) Do you like to cuddle?
love it.

34.) Have you held hands w/ anyone today?
no.

35.) What kind of music did you listen to in Elm.School?
pop--spice girls, TLC, anything on kiis fm. then i got into my 'cool' 90s alt rock phase like no doubt, matchbox20 and third eye blind. funny.

36.) Are most of the friends in your life, new or old?
new. but i lovelovelovelovelove the old ones who stuck it through.

37.) Do you like pulpy orange juice?
yes.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hai times

After nearly six months of being here, my brain has refused to pick up any more Japanese. It's like it's consciously deciding that any of my earnest attempts will be futile. I have to face the fact that my brain just doesn't want to expand onto a third language in the time I have remaining in my contract. Or that's what I tell myself at least.

Being a Chinese American in Japan affords me the relative anonymity that any East Asian country grants its phenotypically similar denizens. Only upon close inspection of immediate signifiers like choice of clothing or perhaps my gestures will a Japanese person's sixth sense of "foreigner radar" get all tingly. However, once I open the damn trap I have for a mouth, the nihonjins know right away I'm a gaijin and depending on the situation, it can get plain embarrassing. It has become a running joke to put me at the front of the pack when I go out with my more gaijin-looking friends (read: white) to restaurants where the staff instinctively searches for me, the Asian face for language familiarity, 'cause those white folks CAN'T POSSIBLY know nihongo. So they'll spit a flurry of Japanese to me, I look dumbfounded at them, they return with an equally confused/disappointed look of "oh crap, how do I pantomime this?", then my bilingual gaijin friends interject with perfect Japanese, the waitstaff is thrilled, we are seated, the day is saved, and I'm well, kinda small but relieved.

Now, I've tried to adapt as far as language acquisition is concerned, wanting to really, truly try to understand what's being said to me. At the beginning, my most useful phrase was wakarimasen or I don't know. My modified "wakarimasen with a cute shrug" could get me out of paying the exact amount of bus fare. But six months later, I tell myself that I should have more confidence than to look that stupid all the time. My new favorite phrase to use upon interaction is hai or yes. Now, hai is the word that opens doors for you, and for me, it lets me get away with playing Japanese. I pretty much say hai to everything even if I have no idea what's being said to me, even when hai is probably not one of the verbal options. I'd rather be agreeable than a stupid foreigner, or at least now I'm an agreeable stupid foreigner. Most of my interactions in Japanese are with servers or transportation folks so the most damage hai can do is get you trapped into an extra bowl of rice or an upgrade to an express train. But I fear the day when I get sick or come across a nasty situation when my hai will probably not be the most wise response. I guess I can always resort back to my cute shrug.

Apaato sitting

You know how in Super Mario Bro's there's that gate/tape thing that comes halfway through the level, and when Mario/Luigi crosses it, it goes brrrrrrreeeeeeeee! and if Mario/Luigi dies after the mark he gets to start after the brrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee! point instead of the very beginning? I think I crossed it just recently. Still doin' my thang in Japan. Still happy-scrappy with life in general. I was warned about a 3-6 month onset of homesick-misery but either it has yet to hit me, or, I like to think, I've persevered and surpassed it completely because I'm just that damn cool and I will trek on fighting toads, vicious ivy fire-breathing plants, collecting points and coins and feathers until I hit that really big brrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeee! thing at the end, and remember to hold onto a shell because I get a 1-Up. I can so rock dem plumber overalls.

So I'm apartment sitting at the moment which means I temporarily have access to a personal computer with Internet connection, leaving ample time for a proper entry. Possibly entries! Internet sabbatical has been thrilling, thrilling in the sense that I'm like an addict in constant search for another elusive fix. My iPod Touch has been a mobile wifi meter, and successful wifi acquisition, depending on signal strength, renders me requesting more...just one lil' bump, or maybe a little line for the road, oh, give me the whole fucking gram. I swear this is the last time I'll complain about not having Internet or write about drugs.

Anyway, I am slightly cracked out. Soy latte on an empty stomach. Soy?? Are you on a boring hippie ethically-conscious diet, Lorraine? No sways. Gimme all the lactosey fatty goodness you can muster out your cow's suckle udders, thank ya kindly. In fact, I just polished off the remaining milk in the fridge (it was about to expire!). Ethically-unfriendly reason being, I'm a creature of habit even if the habit disgusts me. Even though the Starbucks soy latte (in the Oita Forus at least) tastes like cardboard, I get it every time. I'm aware of the plethora of creamier, tastier and even less pricey products, but when you're pressured by an impatient Japanese Starbucks employee, excuse me barista, to order, you just go with what rolls of the tongue-- and trust me, hoh-toh gu-ran-dey soy ra-tay, hitosu, onegaishimasu is easier than sounding out that caramely thing in Japanglish. Plus, I refuse to change because I think I'm more interesting when I'm tagged with an idiosyncrasy. In my Oita Forus Starbucks fantasies the baristas will just smile and ring me up with "The usual?" I've always wanted to have a "The usual?" even if uttered in Japanese. The gaijin bar folks seem to be catching on to my usual gin and tonic though. I swear this is the last time I'll mention bad coffee or Starbucks.

I'M GOING TO TOKYO IN FOUR DAYS! Apologies for the Tourette's-like outburst, but I'm fucking stoked and it's all I'm thinking about! I don't know if I'm more excited to leave Oita or if I'm more excited by the allure of the big T during Golden Week madness. I haven't left the prefecture since Hong Kong in December, and this blogger's antsy pantsy! Alright I'm not going to talk about Tokyo anymore. I fear the anticipation will supersede the actual journey. Yeah right it's going to be fabulous.

Long useless entry. I've just got all this creative energy in me, yo! Writing for the sake of writing. I love the sound of my fingers slapping the keys. On da bus ride ova, I contemplated writing a book or maybe a short story compilation, if only to look furiously busy with a laptop. And the other day before classes I channeled my artistic rage and chopped up various sheets of colored construction paper into countless pieces and glued them onto a larger piece of construction paper, and I felt like genuine cubism-era Picasso plagiarist. Sorry for sounding ghetto, the computer I'm using has a lot of gangsta rap on its iTunes.

What else...I bought two new pairs of shoes. That's all.

I think I'll YouTube America's Next Top Model now. I miss Miss Tyra.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dear blog,

Hello Beppu Beat, how are you? It has been awhile and I've got nothing to report. You're like this frenemy I love to hate, hate to love. I have to impress you with funny stories and clever anecdotes all the time or else you wont think I'm cool anymore. Well, maybe I'm too cool for you.  

No, I'm not, you're awesome, I'm dull, and I love you. I'll be back and you will be impressed, or not, whatever, I'm going to play my guitar now. The Starbucks folks are probably really annoyed I bought a tall and have been here for 2 hours stealing wifi.  Jaa mata. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

internet cafe coffee is nasty

Here I go complaining about having nothing to complain about. What are you supposed to do when everything is going undeniably, blissfully well in your life? I wake up every morning excited to do the same things I did yesterday, taking immense pleasure in the smallest of life's intricacies. I feel like the little prince. Spring has come, and everything is blooming. I really think my mood is attributed to the air. My only fear: Nothing gold can stay.

I'm so much more interesting when I'm angry. No one likes reading about happy people.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My name is Lorraine, and I'm an Internet-aholic.

"Hi, Lorraine."

It's been three days since YahooBB cut off the Internet in my apartment and I gotta say, I don't miss it nor do I feel any sense of urgency to reset it. I was horrified at first, naturally. I came back to my apartment after a weekend away deliciously anticipating the big fat number of new e-mails I had received only to notice the damn Internet was not connecting. Panic mode ensued, I tried doing whatever amateur computer user faced with such a debacle would--resetting the computer, plugging and unplugging the modem, aimlessly clicking on Internet related icons on the hard drive. But no, the ominous green light on the modem blinked and blinked and blinked into the ether, mocking my desperation. I was cut off cold turkey. I had been using my predecessor's Internet for three months without paying a single bill so it had to come sooner or later.

But after the panic and the cold realization came a calm. I channelled Buddhism 101 and cried, "freedom from attachment is the cure for suffering." I seriously think I was addicted to e-mail, Facebook, the blog. I would just stare at my unchanging screen for no apparent reason and hours would go by without notice. I had to quit the Internet. And gee willikers, I do feel a little enlightened. I got more done in two afternoons than my entire four months in Japan because I don't have the Internet immediately accessible. I signed up for Japanese lessons, bought running shoes finally and went for my first jog, I signed up for a gym, I bought a guitar, wrote letters back home, finished a book, and somehow fumbled through a hilarious new member registration at the Internet Cafe (OK, so I haven't completely cut myself off). The home computer is now just a glorified multimedia player. I've chucked the heavy modem into a closet and don't plan on releasing it ever.

The only thing that I don't like is that I just added $10 to Skype and I don't get to call Gramma as easily! And posts will now come intermittently and with fewer photos, I imagine.

I'm back on Internet land from a friend's laptop, and I only have one more thing to add:
My page looks ugly on a PC.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

onsen hoyoland

After four months in Beppu I finally visit the Onsen Hoyoland. I told you I was trying to be more productive. Whassat? Mixed-gender outdoor mud baths. What a wonderfully loaded aforementioned sentence! Every word juxtaposes the other. For 1050 yen (10 bucks) you too can bathe in five separate onsen (hotsprings) including the waterfall onsen, the sulfur onsen, the private indoor mud onsen, the outdoor mixed-gender mud onsen, and the REALLY REALLY MUDDY outdoor mixed-gender mud onsen. Take a look. 
 
Pretty thatch roof road to mud bath land.  




I snuck in my contraband camera. The partitions were an attempt at modesty, but I saw plenty of Japanese nibbles and bits, male and female. They saw mine too. It's kind of hard not to stare when you're walking around in nothing but a strategically placed a wash towel. I've never felt more leered at in my life, except for that time I walked around the Vegas strip by myself in a black dress during NBA All Star week. I was looking at everyone too because they were looking at me! Mutual leering makes it okay to be a creepy.  



Glorious mud! 


Monday, March 9, 2009

cheesu!

I did it. I took purikura (photobooth pictures) by myself. I didn't have the nerve to ask a Japanese stranger to pose with me but now that I think of it, posing with someone would have been terribly awkward, and plus, a Japanese person who actually knows how to use these machines would deter me from aimlessly pressing picture decal options and doodling nonsensical Japanese phrases, WHICH IS THE BEST PART OF PURIKURA. Why YES, that IS a picture of a live panda next to a dancing bunny costume! Of course! 


Oh, Vanity, it was fantastic, but now I have a shit ton of pictures of myself and I don't know who to hand these out to...even ironically. To my three readers, if you want one, I'll send one to you. Perhaps several so then you can deal with them. They're also stickers so you can use them to...dunno, stick stuff together?? 

What else, what else, this entry was pointless. I'm teaching in Beppu this week so I just mucked around one of the Beppu shopping centers. I didn't have to start my day until 5 p.m. So I had some KFC for lunch, and I also won lotsa Hichew candies somehow at the same arcade where I took the pictures. ANNNNND, I impulsively bought EXTREME Screamin' Dill Pickle Pringles. I hate things that are marketed as EXTREME. Unless a potato chip aerial heel flips out of its tube and kicks me in the face it's just a nasty pickle-flavored chip. 

Anyway, behold false marketing and me succumbing to its powers:


They were EXTREMELY rancid, but I couldn't stop eating them. 

That's about all I have to report to blogworld. This past week has been interesting and you don't know the least of it, but I'm happy-scrappy. I'm going to start being very, very productive. I've had a long enough break from reality. 

Seacrest, out. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

E.T.

Whuddup blogworld, I am certifiably an alien. Booyah.    


I finally picked up my gaijin card at the Beppu city hall. Actually, I've been an alien for a while now. My ID card was sitting in a box ready for me to pick up since mid-December, but silly me thought they mailed them to your door so I had been waiting patiently all this time until I was informed otherwise! I thought there would be some outrageous penalty I had to innocently shrug and gesture my way out because I was so damn tardy in picking it up but the Foreign Registration lady just chucked it over to me, sealed in its own little carrying case of course. Apparently these babies have locator chips in them so the government always knows where we are. Allegedly, some foreigner killed a couple of Japanese people and the government freaked and now there is absolutely no gaijin privacy. (Don't the Japanese kill each other too? whatever.) I have nothing to hide so I'm indifferent about being found, but if some Japanese bureaucrats were looking for me before, they must have thought it was strange I was detained in city hall for so long. Well, it's not like I go anywhere anyway. I HAVE TO GET OUT OF OITA. Golden Week is coming up in May and I'm gonna join my Saitama training group besties Joe and Paul (HI!!!) for a week of much needed immorality in the more northern locations.  

If you look at the picture closely, you'll notice my left hand has a plaster on it (I refuse to call them Band-Aids) (and it really is my left hand, assholes, my Mac's Photo Booth takes mirror images). I gave myself the most unnecessarily huge paper cut ever with a classroom textbook and now I spite the company even more. My motivation to master Japanese currently stems from my desire to find a new job as a hostess. You think I'm kidding.     

Last doodle of the Usa commute. "Doolittle" by Pixies. 


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

sci-fi wasabi!

More doodles. This week from the Usa commute. 

Close up of handlebars. Ratatat on shuffle. Terrible. Will work on it. I was a little pensive at the time.



"Stereo Type A" by Cibo Matto. Incomplete. The Usa ride is a shorter than the Nakatsu commute last week. I do notice that the Cibo Matto picture is a lot softer and dreamier than Kings of Leon in the last entry. 



Anyway, Usa school blows. I hate teaching there. It's the last week of the four straight weeks of parent observations. I'm running on autopilot now. The Japanese teacher gives her speech, I smile awkwardly, bow occasionally, I give my lesson, act extra-supa-genki so parents know their invested yens paid for someone worthwhile. I now no longer give a fuck if I'm the only one singing and dancing in a room full of 20 completely silent parents and their asshole children. I feel shameless. Invincible. 

More on that, yesterday I went to a bar by my very lonesome and had a martini. It felt nice sipping on my drink, munching on olives and enjoying my solitude. I felt like Samantha and all those women in movies sitting by herself at the bar, legs crossed, eluding super coolness and confidence. I talk to you if I want to, fool. I think Japan has been really good for me.   

Sunday, February 22, 2009

my lovers

I have a lot of shoes, but there's only one pair that I'm emotionally attached to--my green converse. My babies are almost 8 years old now, and boy, the stories they could tell. They've been through it all. Never washed, never mended, they take in every scuff and scrape, pounded on the indoors and outdoors, of concrete, grass, dirt, mud, rain-soaked streets, cobble stone or brick road, on gas and break pedals, through every city, state, country I've traversed, treading through the ridiculous to the average to the banal days and nights, with all the significant people still here or gone, and to insignificant passerbys, my shoes are with me, protecting my soles, keeping my balance. I tell people that if my home burned down the two things I would run through smoke and flames to save are my passport and my chucks. I worry occasionally they'll fall apart on me and I'll need to find a replacement. If that happened I would save the laces and keep them somewhere safe. The new pair has tough shoes to fill.  



Anyway, this was a pretty pointless entry but here's some more of my idiosyncrasies to flagellate. I've got a new hobby to ease the sometimes terrible commutes to class (it sometimes takes two hours one-way). I sketch still life to a different album on my iPod. I'm not much of an artist but I'm really into drawing perspective, and I wanna see if music will affect how pictures turn out.  

"Because of the Times" by Kings of Leon. That dude I sketched thought I was a little weird. 



"Flow" by NABOWA and some emo-journaling. That dude was asleep. 



And some more random pictures. This little boy statue in Nakatsu is always dressed but his weewee is never completely covered. 



It never rains in southern California, but it doooo in Kyushu. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

canon

I finally bought a camera. Just a cheapy Canon. The menu is in Japanese so I'm not going to fiddle with its settings. It's trapped in auto-flash-focus perdition...or at least until I learn how to read. I saved up for my new digital baby by eating instant ramen for about two weeks straight. It's okay, I love instant ramen. I'm terrible at taking pictures but here's a little tour of my frolic ala Bepp: 

This is Beppu Park but it's more like a Beppu Park/Bay/"place where ugly statues and odd structures die". I live about a two minute bike ride from it.  



I really like this floor fountain and its infinite ripples. 



My used-but-like-new mamacheri I bought for 6000 yen, or about 60 bucks. That obnoxiously yellow monstrosity looming in the background is a Pachinko, roughly translated to Japanese slot machine parlor...*shudder*...that's going to be an entirely different entry. 



That's Asahi Beer Tower at the tallest-rightmost. Apparently you can go up the tower and drink beer in high altitudes. 



The Beppu Bay. I feel like I'm home in sunny So-Cal sometimes. I like coming here to ponder and act all pensive and stuff so the locals think I'm deep or something. 



My apartment is sandwiched in ghetto Minami Matogahamacho, a 5 minute walk from the station. I'm train-track-Lorraine. Love it. 



The fools in black (not my blue jean Gaijin friend Greg) just came from a wedding. Guests at Japanese weddings are pimped ouuuuuut with lavish presents. They were each gifted with Gucci wallets and Louis Vuitton satchels and probably a promissory note to the betroths' first born. I asked them to pose "crazy" for me...well, I had my friend ask them for me because I don't speak Japanese. I love how they all instinctively throw up peace signs for wacky photos. 


Thursday, February 12, 2009

nihon vday

I reaaaally really want a drink named after me. At the PEI bar yesterday I joked to the owner that my drink would be a shot of gin with ground up ecstasy on the rim served with a rag soaked in chloroform. It's the perfect date-rape shot! Now I just need a good name for it. "Lorraine's Pain" was brought up but it's not catchy enough. "Lorraine's Brain Drain"? I'll work on this. 

Speaking of a hot date, Valentine's Day is coming up! I've never been a fan of the helliday but I'm a little excited about it this year because they do it differently in Japan: Girls buy GUYS the gifts. Ladies, some of you may think this is a travesty but I'll tell you why you should think it's awesome, but first a preface...

In the western hemisphere, Valentine's Day is almost torture for couple-less women who have to watch their coupled-girlfriends-and-foes get vomited on with pink hearts and candy and flowers by their Vday loverman. Single gals may not want to admit it, but those who don't bag a dude by mid-January-early-February are just about ready to embrace datelessness-- sometimes with good humor but more oftentimes with hateful, angry-woman vengeance at the Hallmark holiday. It's hard not to be bitter when "Love" via malicious propaganda infiltrates the air, no invades it like the Allied storm into the Normandy coast.  

Okay so why do the Japanese do it better even though you, my lady, has to buy a man chocolates and stuff? 

Because over here ladies get to choose their lover to be. Because over here the boys are left wishin' and hopin'. Because over here, this Feb. 14, the roles are reversed. Because over here (and this is my absolute favorite reason) there's a holiday exactly one month later called White Day where the males who receive your chocolates of love are expected to return the favor by giving gifts usually more expensive. The term "sanbai gaeshi" (thrice the return) is the rule of thumb for the price of the return gift.

Happy St. Valentine's week from Japan!   

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hahpee birsthay!

Went to this awesome 50s-inspired dance hall called Hit Parade. It was hilarious. I twisted, shouted, and eye-fucked the Japanese Johnny Rocket with his Elvis hair and blue suede shoes the whole night. I had never been more tempted to throw my underwear at someone...well, except Caleb Followill. I love Beppu. 



Newsflash! I love Beppu but I hate my job! AAAAARGHGHGHGGHGH!!! Most Japanese schools have this obligatory custom of holding parent observation week in which parents, well, observe their children during lessons. This will be going on every week for the next month in the four schools I teach at. I'm a decent teacher, but no matter how awesome you are, sometimes your shit kids just don't want to learn what your spitting at them, especially the company-imposed mandatory material that's sometimes just plain insulting. Today I made myself look like a jackass singing the Teddy Bear song (with choreography!) in front of asshole children who could not have looked more patronized and way too damn old to sing and dance to something that retarded. I pretended the parents weren't there during the lesson, but had I the gall to squander my dignity by looking up to their faces I'm sure they would have either had the collective expression of, "Ooh, that's painful" or perhaps, "Ooh, that's what you get for mocking my children." I have three more weeks of this. And I'm going to ask the Hit Parade folks if they need a new backup singer. 
     

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

my last entry sucked and yet here's another one equally shitty

I hate musicals. Once a song and/or intricate ensemble dance is woven into an already ludicrous storyline, I know exactly what that stupid term "blood curdling" feels like. Catchy songs should not be used to advance the plot or develop character. 

But I have to admit I found myself wanting to jump out into the dark theater aisles and dance when I watched "Mama Mia!" with my Japanese Bubbie yesterday. (Japanese movies play about 3 months late.) To be nit-picky, "Mama Mia!" built its plot around pre-existing ABBA tracks, so the songs acted more like an enhancement versus a narrative element. But the movie really got me all warm and fuzzy, ridiculous singing/dancing/that-doesn't-happen-in-real-life-moments withstanding. Sophie has no dad at the beginning and then ends up with three (apologies for the spoiler, but you already saw that coming), Greece is beautiful and I want to retire there and have children and sing and dance and drink all day too, I nearly cried during the Donna and Sophie getting-ready-for-the-wedding scene", and lastly women rock and men are only good for their money, money, money in this rich man's woooorld. Oh god, now I'm doing it. 

So I wanted to hate it because it was a musical but I didn't. 

Besides, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is one of my favorite movies. 

And, well, Catherine Zeta Jones was really good in "Chicago". 

And who doesn't like old Disney movies?  

So basically I hate musicals that suck. Or I just really hated "Sweeny Todd".  




yeah this entry sucks. last night iris, minna, and i replayed our gin and calpis, and lots of drunk-munchies in my apartment before a school night episode. and now i'm hungover, happy? 

Monday, February 2, 2009

consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative

January always passes quickly. 

I had a good day of biking around Beppu, checking out the beaches and zipping around shady side streets and alleys. I found a place that sells tonic water and I'm tickled.  

I have a new hobby of buying unusual charm necklaces. I don't even wear jewelry. I used to think baubles (or any accessory) were this weird, completely unnecessary human invention to appease our vanity (and girlfriends)...but they're so pretty! So far into my collection I have a chair, a sewing machine, and today I found this awesome train track.  
 


Only three months into this Japanese sojourn and I have developed somewhat of a reputation among Oita's foreign population. I heard the word "crazy" thrown around recently and who knows what else people (a lot whom I've never met or know little about) are whispering. Oita has the DSL of gossip trafficking apparently, with tidbit-filled texts and updates running amuck XOXO Gossip Girl style. Irritating, but I guess if your life is boring enough to talk about me to other people then I'm here to help. 

Now, I knew that coming to Japan I would have to tone down the excesses and beat down the stereotype of American expats but once you trim down partying to every weekend (vs. Tues/Thurs/Fri/Sat in L.A.), the little binge drinking devil in you naturally requires some much needed indulgence, or over-indulgence actually. And I can see why some people who meet me at that point or people who have heard stories would think I should be institutionalized. I'm not making an excuse but I just can't help it; it's a struggle against my id. A new friend I made said to me, "At least no one will ever accuse you of being boring." Sad thing is, I'm really pathetically normal in my natural state: I'm reclusive, shy, antisocial. But now I feel like I have a reputation to hold up. The pressure to act socially irresponsible! 

"I must be nuts." -K. Vonnegut. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lately

Been lagging on posting. I've been mentally-drafting an entry on Japanese trains and the people in it but it needs more time to develop. I will cheat and show you some pictures with captions. 

This is what I call Monday night carnage. That's three flasks of gin, two cocktails, one bottle of wine, three bottles of original Calpis, one bottle of fruit Calpis, and a bottle of peach juice. That was shared among three girls. We are champions for drinking on a school night.



Don't you love finding random pictures in your cell phone camera? I found this gem of me prancing in front of a passed out guy at an all-night karaoke bar. I don't remember this picture being taken but I do remember mocking him and trying to wake him up. It didn't work. This guy was a goner. 




My Taiwanese couchsurfers who bummed it on my kitchen floor for two nights left me a pretty silk purse and this cute note. Every time I host I get a renewed sense of the innate kindness of people, found in perfect (now ex-)strangers! They didn't even spell my name correctly! They were so adorable. 
 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

old bath water

Have you heard of www.couchsurfing.com? I would rather not explain so if you haven't then just check out the site and it'll explain itself to you. If you have heard of it, then great, what follows will actually make sense to you...sort of. Well, it will make sense in the way that I wordily reroute things. 

Beppu is Japan's hotspring capital. I read some statistic once that it has more hot water than any other place in the world save Yellowstone. Beppu is the slice of meat between gorgeous mountains and a glistening bay. There's so much to do, so much to see! The Hells, monkeys, sea life, wild animals, Hello Kitty and Friends! And although the city officials don't wanna admit it, it's also renowned for its dirty, seedy, raunchy underground sex industry, brimming with snack bars, porno theaters, and that infamous sex museum (conspicuously missing from its maps). It's a tourist town, with peak season in the summer (odd because I would imagine tourists would be attracted to warmth in the winter). I've come to love my town for all its worth, not that I'll ever walk alone at night. I can understand Beppu's allure to the outsider looking in. When I think of the Japanese I think of:

- efficiency
- speed
- lights
- made up and dressed up wackos and bizzaros
- bored and tired salarymen
- trains filled to the maximum capacity of people but are still completely silent
- its categorized language gauged on the level of appropriate politeness
- virginal, giggly, shy school girls
- a lifestyle infused with stifling tradition, strict customs and rituals!

Who wouldn't want to leave all that behind and make the long trek very south for...bath water? 

Let's take a look at the bath. 

Bathing is something you do completely nude, stripped down to the very literal core of your being. You're not even allowed to step into a hotspring unless you've scrubbed yourself squeaky. Any excess dirt, sebum, and baggage must be rigorously washed off and drained. Yes, even behind your elbows, neck, ankles, those hard to reach places. You can shave if you want. You are clean, naked, vulnerable to the elements. Stripped of your guard of clothing and a layer of skin cells. You are the most You you will essentially be. When you're in the water you can just let it all soak in, relax, bliss out. It's very personal; you're sitting in a pot of You Soup...or maybe a You Broth. You feel safe and protected in the warm water surrounding you, you're back in the womb. (And maybe your mother bathed you too, so it could be Oedipal...gross). The water has healing properties. When you're ready to come out you're off on a fresh start, up and at 'em, to take it all on again. Reborn. It's spiritual. Beppu is one hot spot where you can just get the fuck away from it all, away from your compartmentalized lives of home/work/work friends/friends/school rinse and repeat. 

Which brings me to couchsurfing.com. I've had a profile based in Arcadia since last September and I decided to host when I moved to Beppu. Of the 23 listed hosts in Beppu, I would estimate five hosts are actually trustworthy whereas the others seem like people who are not really the people they say they are, who might kill you, steal your shit, or do sordid things to your body while you sleep. Since The Bepp is such a popular town for all those reasons I've listed above, I get quite a few requests, for the other reasons listed above. Since moving here in late November, I have hosted twice and I have some surfers on their respective ways, a pair as soon as this weekend. My account has never seen so much action. I got THREE requests today. I declined them all and I write this entry now because I feel badly for not sharing. It's not the "sharing of my space" and the "sharing of trust" with complete strangers I've met on the internet that's bothering me. I don't mind hosting. I love meeting new people and "sharing stories." But mostly, I feel bad for declining because I really just don't want to share Beppu. I want beautiful Beppu to myself. This is My seedy little town. It's already bad that Beppu's in Lonely Planet. 

In the words of my sagacious 13 year old sister who once argued with me over something I cannot remember a long time ago, back when she could not differentiate pronouns, "It's mine, not you. Don't touch." 

And sometimes a girl just wants to have a weekend alone. I teach bratty kids all week. I wonder if there's a place I can go to just get away...