ukulele, poke, and cray-zay

(Those all rhyme, in case you were wondering.)

Tonight, again, I spent some time with friends after school.  I napped briefly in the car, while I waited for them to arrive at our early dinner location.  We had a silly time figuring out how to order our Poke (think of a short “okay” with a p in the front), and chatted and ate and chatted some more, before heading outside to chat and dance and do acrobatic bits (because, why would we not do such things?).  We were all a bit tired, but only ended our time together, because the two of them had to go pack (one is moving apartments tomorrow, and the other is leaving to visit Australia for vacation).

At lunchtime, I had a Spanish-speaking lunch with some students, while I played ukulele alongside one of them.  I dragged kids through knowledge, forcing them to think and do well on their tests – I actually handed some tests back immediately, telling them, “No,”  go fix this stuff.  After school, I played a birthday song for a different student, and gave her a guitar string ring I made in Japan (not because she’s my favorite or anything, but because she always steals my jewelry during class, and hopes I won’t make her give it back.  So, I figured I’d give her something of her own that was sort of mine.  It was fun playing the song and singing for her.  I had forgotten how fulfilling it was, when I’d sung for my dad’s 64th birthday (“When I’m 64” by the Beatles, of course).

Yes, I feel satisfied in my day today.  It was good and fulfilling, an oddly uncommon combination for me in recent years.  I am delighted with this having happened twice this week.  I look forward to the next one and many to come.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

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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

Food

So much of my food here is selected based mainly on it’s ability to satisfy hunger while leaving the wallet as heavy as possible.  The sandwich I had today, my dinner tonight – I hardly want to eat either one, ever.  And yet, I’ve had the same sandwich thing multiple times this past year.  Why?  Because it fills me without voiding my wallet.

I can hardly wait never to have to eat like this again.  At least, as part of my daily life, I mean.  It’s exhausting, figuring out what to eat, when I really don’t like – and even rather dislike – the foods around and available to me.  I’ve never eaten in so many restaurants, and had to take deep breaths and just ‘deal with it’ in my entire life before moving here as I have this past year.  I’m tired of it all.  Clearly Japanese food is just not my style.  I leave it to others to enjoy, therefore.

Bring on the green smoothies, salads, and everything not Japanese, Houston.  I’m ready.

Post-a-day 2017

Killer Khan

Tonight, I met a sweet old man named Ozawa Masashi (Masashi Ozawa in the American style of names).  He is a monstrous 195cm (6’5″), with an incredibly sweet and open demeanor, and he owns a restaurant in Tokyo, where we ended up tonight after dancing.  As I commented on how massively huge this restaurant owner was compared to the average Japanese person, I was informed that he was, in fact, a retired wrestler.  Sure enough, photos inside the restaurant tell a black and white story of this man’s wrestling adventures Stateside in the 80s, with matches against André the Giant and the likes.  Killer Khan is the name, and wrestling was his sport.

We ate his food (delicious), tasted the hard-to-get sake (fabulous), and enjoyed his happy talk about just about anything (including the facts that his son is about 208cm and looks like him, his daughter is a martial arts champion in the US, and that he himself spent a year in Dallas about 22 years ago).  He even showed us photos.

We watched a small bit of one of his matches, and it was amazing to see this man in action, back in his days of wrestling.  He was even more of a monster in terms of size, and the other guy in the ring paled in comparison.  Frankly, Killer Khan was the epitome of ‘scary wrestler man’.

And now, here he his, across the world from his wife and kids, running a restaurant in downtown Tokyo.  I am 100% not a wrestling fan, however, I am definitely a fan of Ozawa Masashi, this happy, massive, sweet old man, who likely hunches from habit with such low Japanese doorways, and who just so happened to be part of a lethal show 30-ish years ago.


Post-a-day 2017 

Uh-oh, Ramen

I feel a little bit like I was part of the film “Legally Blonde” tonight.  Remember how Elle said that a sorority sister of hers threw up on a guy on their first date, and they ended up engaged/married?  (It was something very similar to that, anyway.)  Well, tonight, meeting up with a guy for the first time (outside of just seeing one another at work, and Maybe exchanging a word or two), something in that same category went down.  In a sense, anyway… you can judge for yourself, if you think it really is in the same category of events.

We met up to go look at these really cool buildings, with artwork all on the sides of them, done by this one particular artist.  As we were finishing up, we decided to go get some food together.  We settled on ramen, as it is kind of the go-to food in Japan, and I’m usually okay eating it.  However, for whatever reason, this ramen decided to disagree with me more than usual.  Much more than usual, in fact.

As I explained that my typical US diet  was one that included veggies, fruits, seeds, and nuts almost exclusively, and no meat, fish, or grains, my new acquaintance started apologizing to me.  ‘No, no… it’s okay.  Really.  I’m used to it.’

Except that it kept getting worse as we walked around the neighborhood, headed for the riverbank.  When we reached the riverbank, I had to lie down on the ground, my stomach was is such a miserable state.  After another minute or two, I suddenly changed my mind on the offer of a bathroom, and said that I needed one asap.  Hurry, please! I thought, as I focused on breathing deeply, he continuously asked me if I was alright, and little pebbles (from my lying on the ground) shoved their ways lower and lower down my pant legs.

We finally made it to the grocery store.  I told him to shop a while, we both chuckled, and I practically ran to the bathrooms.  I tell you, I almost cried while in there, so bad was the pain in my stomach.  I have no idea what was in that ramen, but it was one of the worst things I’ve had to eat since living here (in terms of effects on my body).

And, of course, I had to have this happen while spending time with this new guy.  Good thing I’m not too big on looking good and first impressions being amazing or anything.  This was just plain ridiculous.  However, he had an amazing attitude about the whole thing.  And that’s how it reminded me of Legally Blonde.  Rather than push us apart, it felt as though my mini illness actually brought us together – we made it through the hardship together, you know?
Anyway, that’s that.  And it might have even been a date (according to my Japanese girlfriends).  😛
Post-a-day 2017

Adding to the Bucket List?

“It’s not ON my bucket list.”

“Well, then add it right now.”

We laugh.  I consider, and then accept.  We all take a photo or video or two, and then Richard asks, “Who’s first?”

“I am,” I say.

“Okay, are you ready?”

“No, but go ahead anyway.”

As the suction cups grabbed hold of my tongue’s taste buds, I reacted with small and sudden shudders, but kept calm and chewed away.  Thank you, God, for allowing me the gift that is my life, such that I be granted this experience.  Thank you for the gift of this animal, and thank you for the camaraderie and friendship that its life has developed within this group of people with me now.  The taste and texture were quite acceptable, and the only movement I noticed was due to the fact that it kept grabbing my tongue in different spots, somewhat sporadically, with it’s tiny suction cups.  And then the live squid was no longer live, and it went into my stomach.

Only one other person (I believe) had the suction cups grab at his tongue, but most everyone tried a bit of this wriggling, writhing squid that somehow reminded me of maggots – a fact I happened to mention aloud just as we were about to begin tasting.

So, that was a fun thing to add to and then check off of my bucket list.  The mental one, anyway.  I actually have a written one here at home.  It’s rather in-depth, I think, and I only occasionally have anything to add to it, as I spent so much time initially thinking things through as I began the list in the first place.  Anyway, straying from the topic…

 

Another thing that I suppose I unintentionally added to and then checked off of my bucket list was changing clothes.

We were doing a little tour around town (Seoul, South Korea), and that was the reason for the squid in the market.  Before we arrived to the market, however, I found that I much needed to lose my pants and to switch to my shorts.  We were walking outdoors and in the sunlight a bit more than I had expected.  However, I had prepared by putting my shorts at the very top of my bag, for easy access.

My being who and how I am, and thinking as I do, I had already considered various ways for me to change into shorts, should the need arise.  Therefore, as we were going through the subway station, I announced to a girlfriend that I needed to change into my shorts, and what did she think?  We were easily on the same wavelength, and she lent me her sweater that she’d been wearing around her waist.  I tied her sweater around the back, and my own around the front, making a sort of two-toned skirt-type garment.

Standing in front of two of our guys, – and I must say that it seemed to me that they were rather unaware of the events unfolding directly in front of them – I calmly and quickly defrocked my lower half (shoes included), handed the pants to the girlfriend, slid up my shorts, and slipped on my shoes.  It was a beautiful and near-flawless performance on both our parts, the girlfriend’s and mine.  Essentially, it was just about perfect.  The only thing that could have improved the matter, would have been someone’s noticing that I had been in pants before, but was in shorts the rest of the day.  However, it was still worth the fun for the two of us, despite no one else’s having noticed anything… at all.  😛

 

Anyway, this feels to be poorly expressed, but I feel myself to be in a somewhat poorly state – think extreme exhaustion.  Therefore, I accept this story-telling as it is.  I hope you still enjoyed it, despite my feelings of its being utterly insufficient.  Peace and love.  Beware of squid suction cups, and go do something fun and crazy for yourself this week.

 

Post-a-day 2017

 

Pork Buns and Handkerchiefs

Today, at the train station, my brother and I were looking for a place to sit down and eat our lunch.  We found a single spot on this rounded bench, and went for it.  I originally attempted sitting on my bag, but was uncertain as to its ability to withstand the weight, so ended up sitting on the bench (at my brother’s insistence), with my brother squatting in front of me.  We were chitchatting about the food as he opened up the bags (it was some dumplings and pork buns from this famous local bun shop, 551), and the old lady next to me readjusted her belongings a bit, and scooted to her left enough of army brother to sit down next to me.

He thanked her in a fabulous Japanese fashion (so proud!), and took the seat.  As he had the box of buns in his hands, when he opened it up, he offered one of them to the lady.  After some coercing, she finally accepted a half, and even one of the shrimp dumplings, as well (she seemed to perk up a bit when she saw the dumplings, and had no hesitation in the offer of one of those).

She and my brother continued a bit of chitchat about the fact that the buns were from the famous shop, as well as why each of them was there (This was all in Japanese, of course, so I understood the bulk, but couldn’t quite jump into the conversation due to the Japanese and the fact that we were on a rounded bench, so I couldn’t quite see the lady, unless I leaned way forward.).  Eventually, after she learned that I was his younger sister, I heard the same comment I always seem to get here in Japan: that I am “cute”.  While it is not exactly something we love to be called back in the US, it is actually a quite nice compliment here in Japan.

Then, as my brother explained about my living in Japan, she asked me how I liked it.  I gave a half smile and wobbled my head a bit, but couldn’t bring myself to spit out any words – I truly had no idea how to answer, and I could feel something uncomfortable rising inside me already.  Fortunately, my brother, perhaps sensing my hesitation-slash-unwillingness-to-answer, took over answering the question for me.

His answer, however, surprised me – he was quite open and honest with the woman.  I, just in thinking about it all was already starting to tear up, but I felt a small sense of relaxation and relief as I listened to my brother share with the lady how I was not having too easy or good a time (and that that was part of why I had come down to visit him for the weekend).  I had finished eating what I was going to eat, so I excused myself, saying it would be good to jump in the line for the bathroom before I had to go get on my train.

Once I reached the bathroom line, I couldn’t help it, the feeling was so overpowering: tears started pouring down my burning eyes, as I gasped quietly for air.  I couldn’t quite understand what was happening with me.  I had noticed that I was a bit borderline already earlier in the day (borderline tears, that is), but I hadn’t known why, nor had I expected something like this to send me into such a state as I was now.

I used the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and went back out to my brother, who was standing ready by my bag.  I broke right back into tears when he asked if I was alright, and he just held me in a big brother hug for a bit, soothing me, before gently telling me that I had about 8 minutes before my train, so we’d do well to head toward the gate now.

He was holding a marigold handkerchief in a little clear plastic bag, and he proffered it to me, explaining that it was dyed with actual marigold, and the old lady and her sister (the one whose son is a pianist, and whose concert the old lady was coming to see) had wanted me to have it.  They said that they wanted me to enjoy my time in Japan, and that they hoped things improved for me.  They had wanted to talk to me, too, but had had to leave, so they left the well-wishes and the handkerchief with my brother to pass on to me.

Naturally, there were even more tears at this point, but with a slightly different edge to them.  : )

As we hurried off toward my train, I expressed how my visit to my brother and his girlfriend was so wonderful, that, now that it was at an end, it was difficult for me to think about going back to my life, my town.  I had gotten a taste of so much of what I had been missing these past seven-ish months, and I didn’t want to go back.  Not that I had any intention of not going back – there was just a taste of dislike for what awaited me.  I had finally started to be accustomed with my circumstances, it was hard being reminded of what had been wanting from my life.  I know that I’ll be okay, and that I likely will very much enjoy these next few months – it’s just never so easy to go back to plain white bread when you’ve had all your favorites available to you.  (That sort of idea, anyway)

Yeah… that’s all I have to say about that.  : )

 

Post-a-day 2017