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


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.