Getting ready to time-travel

And so one thing ends, and, with anxiety, something new begins.  Tonight, I complete my life here in Japan, and dream one last dream before I move forward to my next step.  I felt like I was in “What About Bob?” today, taking my mother’s guidance to do whatever needs to be done next – aka baby steps.  I took my baby steps all day long today, and finally got it all finished.  I even accomplished a few things I expected not to be able to do.

One of those things being seeing the guitarist I’d seen a couple weeks ago at the nearby train station, who had greeted me in English one night as I was moving my stuff to my friend’s place.  He greeted me and asked how I was doing tonight, as I was walking in Shibuya, and ended up accompanying me, with my comfortable acquiescence, to the phone shop to disconnect my phone (It was closed.), and then buying me a Japan-only Yuzu frappucino from Starbucks, and sitting with me as I finally watched the Shibuya Crossing from the Starbucks window (It wasn’t actually very impressive, but I think I never really expected it to be, anyway.), at which point, we finally discovered that we had, in fact, seen one another those two or three weeks back.  He was a nice guy, Ryo.

I ended my evening with my last gaiten zushi (conveyor belt sushi), on which I spent ¥680 (just over $6 US), and which I didn’t even finish eating.  I’ll miss such affordable sushi, but I’ll survive quite well back in Houston, I do believe.  Green smoothies and colorful veggie-based juices are calling me.

And now, at long last, I shall sleep.  Rest, anyway.  We’ll see if it really is sleep tomorrow morning, when my alarm wakes me just before 5am.  I hope I wake rested well.

Anyway, this is it, I guess.  Tomorrow morning, I say goodbye to Japan, and then I time-travel (departing 11:10am on Saturday, 12 August, and arriving 9:30am on Saturday, 12 August).

Goodnight!

Post-a-day 2017

My Dating Life

A friend of mine suggested I write about dating life in a foreign country.  However, I cannot entirely speak to the subject, because 1) I have not dated anyone here, and 2) I haven’t really dated people back home either.

However…., I do have some interesting dating and dating-ish stories I could share.  So, I’ll do that instead.  🙂

We’ll begin with my first date, as it was, indeed, an odd beginning to an odd history of dating.

 

Date #1

My high school boyfriend and I split up the summer before college, out of being reasonable.  How it happened is a story for another time, though, as it is well worth telling, but just not now.  We remain to this day friends, and so were on good terms as the summer neared its end.  One day, when we were in the same place, John (that’s his name, you see) did something adorably wonderful.  He asked me on a date.  No, I do not remember the exact words he used, however, I remember that he did use explicit words quite similar to, “Would you go out on a date with me?”

While we had been a couple, we had often laughed at the fact that we had never been on a single date.  Every time we were arranging something that would have ended up as a date, we found ourselves desperately longing to invite so-and-so to come, because he/she would just LOVE it, or something like that.  It wasn’t that we didn’t want to be alone together.  It was merely that we love our friends and we are generous.  Also, a good amount of the time, my mom would be with us for things.  She often would be planning something really neat, and I would be going with her, and one of us would think of how John might enjoy the activity, too, and then either pick him up or have him meet us somewhere to join in the activity.  A lot of people found it odd that my boyfriend and I (and often my friends, too) did so much with my mom, but it was just way fun for all of us.  That being said, most John’s and my one-on-one time was spent standing outside his house as I was about to drive home at night, and never on actually going out to do anything (i.e. dates).

So, he asked me on a date.  The plan was to go out to dinner at this great vegetarian Indian restaurant near my house, and then to go to see a musical together downtown.  John was driving (and not I for once).  When he came to get me for dinner, it was sprinkling beautifully, and we somehow ended up going swimming (or at least playing in the backyard in the rain) instead, and my mom went and picked up food for us.  The three of us then had dinner at my house together.  At the musical, the two seats that John had purchased (with the help of his father) turned out to be across the wheelchair section from one another, leaving a gap of about a meter between our two seats.  I squat on the ground next to his seat for a bit, and then I think we eventually moved to a couple of other empty seats, so we actually could sit side-by-side.  It was a fabulously tragic date, which we both absolutely loved, because it was so terrible on paper, but so delightful in experience.

And that was date #1.

 

Date #2

A few years ago, I attended something called VIRTUS Training.  It is essentially a seminar for people who will be working at schools, for them to learn about identifying child sexual abuse.  In other words, it was a seminar on child sexual abuse.  It was at this wonderful seminar that I met my second date – or so I believe it was my second date, anyway.  He was sitting near me in the training, and I think wasn’t even in my discussion group.  However, we exchanged various faces at different things throughout the evening, and ended up in conversation afterward.  After probably a good half hour of talking outside afterward, he very beautifully expressed that he had enjoyed talking with me very much, and would I like to continue talking over dinner some time soon?  I agreed, and I gave him my number in order to arrange the dinner at another time.

For the dinner, he told me that he was “old fashioned”, and so was it alright that he pick me up for the date?  I originally agreed happily.  However, my sister told me it was a terrible idea, and got me all nervous, because I didn’t really know this guy, and what if it went horribly?  (It went wonderfully, but still, she got me nervous nonetheless.)  But my worries proved pointless, because, as I had just purchased my new car the day of our date, I had to take it for my family to see (and test drive, of course), which put me behind schedule for our date.  Since that was the case, I just met him at a restaurant midway between where I was in town and where he lived, so he didn’t have to wait so long nor have to drive all the way to my house (which was quite far for him).

I eventually ran into him again while I was still working at Starbucks, but it was quite busy at the time, and so we really didn’t get to chat (though I totally wanted to do so).  I had not saved his number, and so couldn’t call or message him again after that.  (Sometimes, you just don’t plan on getting a new phone before you’ve saved a number, ya know?)

And that is what came of date #2, when I met a guy at a child sexual abuse seminar.

 

Date #3

My third date, in my opinion, is the best of the three – yes, there have only been three – and also the most uncertain.  It is uncertain, because I simply hadn’t known that it was a date, and I’m still not certain as to whether it was a date.  You may judge for yourself as to whether it was a date or not.  😉

In France, there is a wonderful carpooling website, which helps anyone travel almost anywhere normal in France (and even to nearby destinations in neighboring countries).  I used it constantly for travel while I studied in Toulouse, and therefore used it again when I went to visit a couple summers ago.  It was in this carpooling from Paris to Toulouse that I met this party boy.

We didn’t talk much on the drive (I slept mostly, and he talked with the other passengers.), but we did a bit near the end, and he asked for my Facebook.  I felt no aversion to the guy, although I knew that we led very different lifestyles, his being a party boy and my being…. well, just not.  I like dancing and music and all, but not the drinking like crazy part.  He had even offered me a section of his sandwich on the ride.  because, I know you, so, of course, we’d share your sandwich.  😛  I liked the guy, despite our obvious differences.  He was just really open and friendly and honest.

And, as a bonus, quite handsome.  Think tall, dark and fancy hair, tanned skin, and quite fit.  Yes, he could carry me quite easily in his arms.  (I have no idea why that is something I notice about guys – whether they could carry me or not.  I just always notice it.)

Turned out that his apartment was literally the next street over from the AirBnB where I ended up staying.  Via texting, he asked if I wanted to get a bite to eat with him one night.  Yes, of course.  (I’d be eating alone otherwise, and he had been great company already.)  ‘Do you want to meet me somewhere, or should I pick you up on my scooter?’  Scooter, please.  (One of my dreams in life has been to ride a scooter with a cute guy in Europe, thanks to MaryKate and Ashley.)

So, he picked me up on his scooter, and drove me to a cool restaurant in a part of town I’ve always loved.  We sat outside, and it was fabulous.  I had him order for me whatever he thought was best to have.  I’m usually more of the raw vegan diet type, but I roll with the culture these days, so I graciously accepted a delicious and innerly-pink steak.  We chatted and had a great time, and when he went in to pay, I followed a bit behind, and asked what I owed.  He, a bit surprised, said that I owed nothing, as he was paying for everything.  It was my turn to be surprised, but I did not even consider that this was a date – perhaps he’s just really nice to the foreigner girl visiting his hometown.

And so, we went and got some beers from a store, and he showed me around his huge, old-fashioned apartment, which he shared with this rich guy with a really nice car, as he put it (I don’t remember what the car was, but it was legitimately a very expensive car.).  We hung out and talked, and it was totally great.  When I finally reached home, and told him that I was home safely, he sent me a message that had me suddenly see the evening in a slightly – meaning entirely – different light.  It was in a light and friendly way, and even with a wink smiley face, so it was not meant to be nasty or inappropriate.  However, he said that ‘he would have preferred that I had stayed there.’  Oh, my…  At last I came to the sudden idea that this might actually have been a date.  I then got super excited that I was not only on my third date ver (Whoohoo!), but on a date with a gorgeous French guy, and IN French.  How cool is that?!  Way cool.  Seriously.  It was awesome.  Dreams fulfilled that I hadn’t even dreamed up yet.

And that was date #3.  I think, anyway.  😛

 

Those have been my three official-ish dates (I’m still not sure about that third one).  They were each wonderful in their own ways, and I find none of them to be too standard (slash at all standard).  I loved each and every one, and I look forward to raising the bar each time to more ridiculous scenarios surrounding my dating life.  (I need to share about my coffee dates and the likes, too.  Those have been fun, for sure, and very international.)

I’m super tired now, so I’m going to sleep.  However, I plan to continue with the coffee dating and other date-related things that weren’t actually dates.  🙂

 

Post-a-day 2017

 

 

Cowboy Church

Just as I was going to bed on Sunday night, I ended up on the phone with my mom.  She was on her way to Cowboy Church, the Church services offered for all the cowboys who are in town to participate in the rodeo (though it is open to all, of course), and so, even though it was long past my bedtime, it being near midnight my time, I asked her to call me back once she had arrived and settled in at the service.

I rushed to finish my bedtime routine, reading and all, and had just finished everything when my phone was buzzing with the FaceTime call from Church.  Therefore, I found myself attending Church for the first time from the comfort of my own bed.  But it gets better.

The passage on which the pastor focused mainly was the one from Luke 10 where Jesus ends up at the home of Martha and Mary, and Mary sits and listens to and dotes on Jesus, while her sister, Martha, is preparing the meal.  (Martha eventually comments to Jesus about the situation, and asks him to tell Mary that she needs to help Martha, and not just sit around, and then Jesus talks about how Mary has actually picked the better and more important of the two options, and all that jazz.)

You know how there’s always the discussion over Shakespeare’s works, whether they are too old-fashioned to be fully understood to people today, and would do best being re-done in a way that people can actually relate to the various situations and circumstances, as people had been able to do in Shakespeare’s time?  Now, typically, we think of the biblical figures as following a certain type of diet, based on historical information on the region, as well as various notes within the Bible itself.  However, seeing as this was Cowboy Church, the pastor definitely took it upon himself to speak to his audience, and to make the story more relatable for his listeners.

How, you ask, did he do that?  Well, Martha wasn’t cooking seeds in the oil, making bread, or anything like that.  She was in the kitchen chopping tomatoes for the salsa, cooking and slicing the meat, heating the tortillas… in short, she was making fajitas for Jesus.

After that image, all I could see was a Jesus eating fajitas next to a jar of Pace Picante, while wearing a tunic, a cowboy hat, and boots; and then riding off on a horse, while swinging a lasso in the air.  Or perhaps I just kept flipping back and forth between a sort of Chuck Norris and a Jesus image.  Not sure – it’s a difficult thing to imagine, Jesus eating tacos and fajitas.

All in all, I had a wonderful time at Cowboy Church, and for various reasons.  i also had several firsts in that attendance.  It was, of course, my first time at Cowboy Church, and I was thrilled to be in attendance.  It was my first time to attend Church while in my bed and PJs.  it was my first time imagining Jesus easting fajitas and salsa.  And, perhaps the oddest of them all, it was my first time spending the entire service using my phone.  It was a way cool sort of bedtime story slash activity.  So glad to have such an awesome mom.  Thanks, Mom!

 

Post-a-day 2017

 

 

“Chocolate”

Okay, here’s an anecdote from the wonderful dinner we had tonight (despite the fact that there were people smoking off and on in the restaurant).

My brother, his girlfriend, and I all had dinner with my brother’s private student tonight.  He’s this older Japanese guy, perhaps in his fifties, who is quite fun and silly, and who loves his family and my brother.  At one point in the night, we ended up on the subject of the pronunciation of English words in the Japanese style (Katakana English, as we like to call it), and specifically the struggle for Japanese people to say the word “chocolate” like a native English speaker.

My brother’s student was determined to pronounce chocolate like a native, and so we kept having to say it ourselves, and then analyze and critique the student’s pronunciation.  Most of the time, there was some special vowel added to the middle of the word, because Japanese doesn’t have consonants side-by-side (only “ts”, “ch”, and guttural stops written as a double consonant [e.g. “tt”, “kk”, etc.]).  So, instead of the native’s “choc-lette”, it tended to come out as “cho-koe-lay-toe” or “cho-ku-ray-toe” (They also don’t have R’s or L’s in Japanese.).

Back and forth, back and forth we went, my saying “chocolate,” followed by my brother’s student saying “chocolate,” the two pronunciations forever being different from one another.  But the student and my brother’s girlfriend, being Japanese speakers and non-native English speakers, couldn’t quite hear the differences.  Whereas my brother and I heard the difference every time, resulting in a good amount of laughter and face-making (You know how you make a face when something isn’t quite right?  That.).

The student even called over two of the waitresses at one point, explaining the situation to them, and asking them to listen to me and him saying each of our versions.  ‘Did the pronunciations sound the same to them?’ he wanted to know.  Yes, they did.  However, when I then said both versions myself, they heard a difference.  So, having lost that bit of the battle, he had them try to pronounce chocolate like native English speakers.  No, they couldn’t quite get it right, that middle “cl/kl” sound being the constant culprit in the matter.  This, of course, created and even greater flow of laughter in our corner of the restaurant.

There is a Japanese comedian who goes around to places (I’ve only seen and heard of ones in the US, but he might go elsewhere, too), asking for different things, but using Japanese English and odd translations.  For example, he walked around New York asking for a “boat-plane” or “sky mamma”.  He was, naturally, looking for a naval aircraft carrier.  The Japanese characters individually mean “sky”空 and “mother”母, and it is, of course, a sort of boat with airplanes.  The whole purpose of his show, of course, is to be silly in interacting with the Americans who have no idea what he is asking.  Having talked about this show earlier in the night, I eventually wondered what might happen if this guy were to try ordering the Japanese version of “chocolate” in, say, a coffee shop or restaurant.

My brother and I did our darndest in listening, but we couldn’t hear the words as people who didn’t know what was being said.  That is, we understand and are accustomed to Japanese English, and so couldn’t figure out how it would sound to people who don’t understand Japanese English.  So, we decided to send a voice message to my mom, recorded by my brother’s private student.

“White chocolate, dark chocolate, bitter chocolate…. please!”

(rather, “Waiito chocorayto, dahku chocorayto, beetah chocorayto… pureezu!”)

Naturally, my mother had no idea, no matter how she tried, what on Earth was being said.  Then, when we went for some other variations, – that is, his attempts at pronouncing it as a Native English speaker – she thought he might have been saying something about a certain kind of energy used in Reiki.

As one can ascertain from that, his “native” pronunciation has some room for improvement.  He declared that his homework was to practice only pronouncing “chocolate” all week.  He even has a voice memo of me saying, “Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate,” on his phone for reference.  We’ll see if he ever manages that native-sounding “choc-lette”.

Now, for anyone concerned about the fact that, ‘Well, chocolate does have an O in the middle,’ recall that that is not the point.  They are not saying the word differently out of righteousness for the fact that the O is there and therefore must be pronounced, but out of the fact that the “cl/kl” sound is just somewhat impossible for Japanese folks.  It makes for some pretty funny-sounding words in English, if you ask me.  😛

 

Post-a-day 2017

 

 

 

Musical Theatre

I declared that I would buy season tickets for my mom and me to the musical theatre whenever I got my first full-time, normal-ish job.  So, when I had my first contracted teaching job, I got season tickets.  For two years, we stayed with it, and it was great.  But then I moved here (Japan), and so we stopped the tickets for this current season.

However, I want to speak to two of the shows from those two seasons.   The two shows to which I looked the most forward were The Little Mermaid and Evita.  I quite likely know (or at least knew at some point) all the words to all of the songs in both of these two musicals, I love them so much.  Until these past two years, though, I had never seen either performance (just the movies).

When we finally made it to the performance of each show, rather than being overwhelmed with delight, I was actually rather let-down.  Why?  Because my favorite songs were cut.  Yup.  Really.

In The Little Mermaid, the US theatre folk decided to make a different song for Ursula, even declaring it better for children.  Except that this new song was significantly less exciting musically, and it had a terrible message being sent loud and clear, so to speak – I was hated, because I was ugly, so I killed my sisters in order to win my father’s favor.  The whole reason I had ever wanted to see the stage production of The Little Mermaid was for Ursula’s song (“I Want the Good Times Back“).  And it had suddenly disappeared.  My excitement for the show went with it – it just became some average show at that point.  Not that I don’t find the performers to be totally talented – because I do find them talented – I was just not so thrilled about the show itself at that point.

The story of Evita was similar, but not so distressing.  Rather than replacing one of my favorite songs, the song just disappeared.  (“The Lady’s Got Potential“)  Also, I think one of my preferred verses of another song was missing, but I’m not sure.  I just remember the rock song with the fabulous words, “Ka-pow, die!” was missing.  😛  Naturally, I was disappointed in the missing chunk of the show.  Performers were still talented; the show itself was just lacking.

 

I’m not sure why I decided to share this in particular, instead of the silly afternoon and evening I spent at the gym, doing yoga classes and boxing classes, and what might have been a tai-chi class; chatting with all the ladies afterward; running into one of the ladies afterward at the supermarket; her asking if I’d bought my vegetables; my explaining how I hadn’t bought any vegetables, because I couldn’t until tomorrow, since the ATMs were already closed and I had no cash (jolly dreadful bit of living in Japan, really), so I had just bought a snack with the 100-yen coin I’d found in my bag; ending up having a fabulous Nepalese dinner with her (at her total insistence); rushing out as smoking was allowed just after 8pm in the restaurant; and then, again at her total insistence, being driven home the short distance from the restaurant by the wonderful lady.  And I even remember her name still.  Anyway, I guess the outline is all you get.  Have a great one, world!

 

Post-a-day 2017

 

A glimpse of Japanese culture

Tonight, I stopped in at an udon restaurant that is a similar style to Luby’s (pick up a tray, grab side dishes as you will, and order the main hot dish fresh when you get to that section, pay at the end of the sliding bar line) for dinner.  I initially hesitate, figuring out what I want to eat. As I decide upon something, I realize that I don’t know how to say what I want, because the first half of the name is written in kanji.  If it had been reversed, with hiragana first and kanji second, I could have faked my way through.  However, how does one start a word/name with only the end of it?

So, I figured I’d just stumble through verbally, and eventually get someone to lean over the counter a bit to see which picture I was indicating.  As I arrive at the ordering section, and attempt to do just as I had planned, explaining that I can’t read Japanese, but I want this one, please, the man in line behind me does me a solid, and reads aloud the name of the dish for me.

Now he totally didn’t need to do this, as the restaurant worker easily leaned forward to see the  picture anyway, but he, for whatever reason – and I word it this way, because this has not often been my experience here, having people be oh-so-willing to help out the foreign girl – decided to help me.  Therefore, despite my terror of getting caught in a language mess of trying to explain and risking not getting my way, I told the lady at the register to put mine and the man’s meals together.  She seemed a bit caught off guard, but accepted my request, likely assuming that I was actually here with the guy after all.

I paid, accepted my change, thanked the cashier, thanked the man once again as he walked up next to me in line once again, and walked off to my seat around the corner.

A minute later, I went to get some tea from the water and hot green tea dispenser, and saw the man there getting water for himself.  When he saw me, he did the Japanese “Oh!”, though a bit subdued, and thanked me in a very fumbly sort of way (I imagine he isn’t quite accustomed to such a scenario, based on his general appearance and fumbliness.), opting to use the version of thank you that literally means “excuse me”, and bowing as best he could holding his tray and water.  I told him that it was nothing, and thanked him again for the help.

Still sitting at my seat a while later, watching a small spider tiddle across the countertop, I notice the man coming over to me, and I look up at him.  He thanks me again (and again in a very fumbly way), looking a bit embarrassed, and bows a couple more times (which I return with a smile and bow) before leaving the restaurant.

It was quite simple, but I found so much culture in the situation, I wanted to share it.  Plus, this older guy was, in a grandpa sort of way, so cute, I wanted the memory to live on somehow in others.

So, thank you, again, old man.  Really, I appreciated your help, and gave you your meal easily and with delight – it was almost an honor for me to have provided you this token of my gratitude.  Thanks.  🙂
Post-a-day 2017

Gumbo is a family affair

Tomorrow, I get to make my first attempt at Gumbo.  I am thrilled, and totally terrified.  😛

I asked my mom for the recipe, so that I could make it for Christmas for Japanese friends, in order to share a bit of my culture with them (Even though it’s definitely not a standard Christmas dinner for Texans, it’s my family’s Christmas dinner pretty much every year.), and also to feel at home a bit for the holiday.

Now, my mom couldn’t just send me the recipe.  Why?  She said that she would have to tell it to me.  “Really?  It’s not written down somewhere?” I thought.  Well, apparently it is possibly written somewhere, however, my mom doesn’t use it.  She uses the recipe her mother has used for the past however many decades, which is probably just about the same as her mother used.  How cool is that?  Family tradition that’s extra-especial.  We have a family recipe.  Well, sort of, anyway.  😛

Now I just have to get it right, and then remember it forever, so that I can continue the tradition of delicious Gumbo in our family.

 

P.S.  “Loser’s Gumbo” is a fabulous song by Shake Russel and Michael Hearne.  Find it.  Listen to it.  Laugh at it.  Enjoy it forever.  🙂

 

I'm part of Post A Day 2016