Rocks with that?

I was reminded today of how I used to have a chunk of charcoal in my water bottle.  I haven’t thought much about that at all recently, (however, I might start doing it again) but apparently the lacrosse team I used to help coach thinks of it often.

First off, the charcoal in the water bottle is something I learned from Japan, though, via my brother before I moved there (and then it was emphasized while I lived there).  It has to do with cleaning up the water, essentially, from what I recall.  (Note: It is not drinking charcoal mixed with water.  It is a stick of this specific charcoal that sits in the water bottle, so that its pores can absorb unwanted stuff from the water.)

Anyway, so I had this stick of charcoal in my water bottle.  I carry my water bottle pretty much everywhere with me in life, so lacrosse practice was included back when I was coaching (and teaching).  Apparently, one of the girls has held on to the fact that I had ‘some kind of rocks’ in my water bottle, though I have doubts as to whether she recalls what the ‘rocks’ actually were (the stick had broken in half, so there were actually two pieces in the bottle, instead of one, but they didn’t really look like rocks).  In memory of my water bottle, in a sense, that particular girl regularly drops rocks into other people’s water bottles, telling them that it is healthy, and reminding them of how I did it.

Yes, my wonderful lifestyle rubs off in the best of ways.  😛  I guess it gives us a new meaning for ‘on the rocks’, now.

Post-a-day 2018


Another letter from Japan

Another letter I found regarding my early time in Japan.  I’m not so sure that I ever sent this one either.  I think they both were intended as drafts, but time kept passing and more kept happening, making me want to add even more… and so I never sent anything. 😛


The short version (A Recount in Which I Cut Out the Complaints)
I live in Toride, Japan, a suburb of Tokyo, and have an apartment, with about 2/3 of what I need in it (a significant improvement from a couple days ago).
Figuring out how to sort trash took a week, but I mostly figured it out with the help of a Japanese friend I made.
I have a new phone and new bicycle (new to me, at least).  Both were killer expensive.  It’s a 45-minute ride to my main school, 10 to my secondary school.
We aren’t paid until the 21st each month, so I had to bring a boatload of cash for my apartment and initial expenses (apparently credit cards are only used in half the locations the US and Europe use them.  Also, bank cards have single-transaction price limits, so everyone always asks if I want to split my transaction when I use my card. (Not that I understand it, but someone translated it once, and I recognize the phrasing + body language now.)
I have a futon, which is a lame version of a mattress, but practical for the lifestyle here (supposed to hang it in the sun every week to kill germs on it, which is usually needed, because it’s hella-hot, and most people don’t really use A/C, even if they have it), and mine seems to be okay-ish for being able to sleep.
A new friend, Sammi, and I talk every evening/afternoon/night just to check in on one another, and to help each other out with whatever questions we’ve each developed about how to function living here (she lives on a little island and is the token white girl foreigner).  And also just to chat about whatever.  Calls are always free to receive, but dialing out costs after 5 minutes, so we go back and forth setting a timer, and hanging up and redialing every 4 minutes 45 seconds.
I have almost nothing to do at school, but my school requires me to be here.  My whole curriculum is written up for the year, and I am only an assistant in class… so my job is essentially to be present in class, and help in class.  Not spend August preparing for classes.  A drastic difference from what I used to do as a teacher!  So I spend my day working on Japanese, and finding ways not to fall asleep at my desk.  I’m not always successful.
The sun comes up around 5am.  I wake up with it, despite the curtains and my eye covering.
I’ve made four good friends who are part of my program, and one Japanese friend, who is a friend of a coworker of one of those four US friends.  The — (my program) people are Jon(athan), Katarina, Sam(uel), and Sammi.  Japanese friend is Rie (ree from reed + saying the letter “a”). Distances from me: Jon/Rie 25 minutes, Katarina 40 minutes (Tokyo), Sam 2 hours (on the beach), Sammi no clue (she’s on a far-away island).
I’m kind of sick of sushi, but that’s probably just because it’s all I had from 7/11 for several days while I had to wait for my predecessor to give me things she had for me for my apartment (fridge, dishes, etc.)
Sammi is my shopping buddy – we talk on the phone, and she helps send me pictures of things she was given, so that I can find them in the incomprehensible store (e.g. this is a photo of my dish soap, I think… look for the words…).  We both enjoy the adventure of it.
Speaking of the store, the bicycle parking area looks loads like a car parking lot.  And it’s used, too.
I experience my first earthquake last night.  It was a 4.6, and I was scared out of my whits.  I was on the phone with Sam when it happened.  I said, “Is that… I think that’s an earthquake,” and then couldn’t even talk, as I lost the ability somehow.  I was quite shocked at how I responded – I knew logically that it was a tiny earthquake, nothing to cause concern.  Yet my body and emotions went psycho-freakout on me, and I even cried when it ended 30 seconds later. Sam asked if I was okay when it stopped, and all I could say was just, “Give me a minute,” and then could finally function again after I cried.  Totally weird, but I’m glad I had that emotional support for my first one.*
*There actually was one last Wednesday night – a 5.4, I think – , but I was dead asleep in my hotel room, so didn’t notice it.  So this was my second earthquake, but the first one of which I was aware as it happened.
Okay, I think that encompasses plenty, though definitely not the whole.  Send inquiries my way.  ;P  Love you all!!
Post-a-day 2018

Frosty Fun

Tonight, we watched hockey.  It was grand.  It was terribly cold.  We danced around for a while to warm up, and then chatted while we watched the scrimmage.  We cheered on a Canadian.  (He’s my friend’s husband.)  I kept wanting to holler out cheers for the Ducks. I guess that’s because it’s the only team I know anymore.  😛  Thank you, Japan, for that piece of knowledge.  You see, a California-Canadian friend I met in Japan loves the Ducks and always talks about them when it’s hockey season.  I looked them up to verify that they were actually the Ducks, because the bar that same friend frequented was called The Duck, and I was worried that I might have somehow mixed the two.  But I was correct.  The Anaheim Ducks are a real hockey team, and they’re based in California.  Fun fact about them: Apparently The Walt Disney Company founded them, just after having made the “Mighty Ducks” film, and it originally called the actual team the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.  Cool, huh?

Anyway, hockey was fun tonight.  I really enjoyed the frigid adventure (especially since the weather has been heating up so much this week!).

Post-a-day 2018


Fear of something, but what?

I did it.  I accomplished exactly what I’d wanted for today (and then some), and I cleaned out and cleared out that big box and its last 8%.  And as nervous as I might have been about doing that – trust me, this getting rid of things I’ve had forever and resisted getting rid of for at least a decade has been an incredible strain on me.  I mean, having all this stuff, exactly how it has been stored (a total mess), has been a huge part of my identity.  I guess it was a big part of myself of which I wasn’t really proud, but that doesn’t make it any easier to clean it up and let it all go.  I’ve never done anything so intense for myself as I am doing right now.  (Not actively, anyway… Japan was tough, but I wasn’t actively seeking out all of that.  I had no idea what was in store for me when I signed on for that job.)

That being said, I find that I’m almost more concerned about tomorrow’s events than any of this cleaning up and out stuff.  I’m going to a sort of luncheon for people in the Texas and Oklahoma area who returned this past year from the same program in which I participated, the returnees.  Something about it kind of terrifies me.

And I’m really not sure what it is…


Anyway, I’m going to do my meditation and painting I had planned for tonight.  Sweet dreams, this half of the world (and good morning and afternoon to the other half).  🙂

Post-a-day 2018


A found letter from Japan

I found this today.  It is from last August….  I suppose I sent it out in an e-mail to people… but I might have just considered sending it out, and never actually did it.  I have edited only the name of the town… just ’cause… you know, Japan.  😛


My dearest family (and my friends who are like family),
I write to you from my new home in T—, Japan.  It is a small suburb of Tokyo, with a whopping (supposedly, anyway) 100,000 people.  I am tasked with assisting English language teachers at two different high schools in the town, one of them an art school, with specialties in painting/drawing/arts of that sort and music, and the other school a sort of engineering-for-mechanics-esque school.  My vagueness is purely due to the fact that no one seems to be able to explain to me about the schools.  On that note, no one seems to be able to explain anything to me clearly.  Guess that’s why I’m here in the first place – to help them with English, and to learn Japanese.
Going along with the lack of understanding point, I literally have no idea what’s going on around me a good amount of the time.  I was sort of trapped in my apartment the night I moved into it – I had purchased a futon (Japanese version of  a mattress – not too sure if I’m fond of it yet, ‘cause I miss my bed, but I think I can handle the futon alright) and toilet paper and towels, but that’s it.  No one could give me a map of the area (and didn’t think of it except for when I specifically asked for one); I didn’t have a copy of my address; and I don’t speak Japanese to be able to ask people for directions to get home if I went out and got lost.  Oh, and I had no phone or internet to look up where on earth to go without a paper map.
And, the best part: My predecessor told me that she had a lot of things she was giving me, so I wouldn’t need to buy most things like a fridge, storage, dishes, “that kind of stuff,” she said.  Way-to-be vague… 😛  So I had to eat food from 7/11 until she delivered her stuff to me… three days later.  No way to cook anything, because she has the electric burner for me to use.  No way to keep anything cold, so I couldn’t have fresh food of any kind for lunch at work (slash at all, since 7/11 isn’t entirely in the category of ‘fresh food’).  No way to feel like I’m not just possibly going to die (Yes, I realize the drama here.).
On top of it all, I was super stressed that I kept asking about going at least to get me a phone number, so that I could use the internet to function (map, translation, where to buy what, etc.), and they, unconcerned, mentioned that someone could take me some time next week “probably”, but I had to know exactly what plan I wanted and from which company.  Thanks, dude.  And how exactly do you propose I figure out that information with no internet, no map of the town, and no Japanese skills?
How did I solve the problem?  I went to meet another ALT (Assistant Language Teacher (Terminology for my program)) in Tokyo.  We’d become friends during the brief orientation in Tokyo earlier in the week, and she was up for helping my get a phone, so I didn’t have to stand in the 7/11 parking lot for super slow, choppy internet anymore (which I’d only discovered the night before).  Plus, I just needed some love.(1)
So I spent the day in Tokyo.  After two hours in the phone store, and using a translator (real person) on the phone, I had a new phone and a decent phone plan for the next two years.  We then went to Starbucks for a break and free wifi (for my friend to use), and we each caught up on all of our e-mails, messages, etc. from a million different people.
We then walked around a bit, and visited the Tokyo Tower area.  I had this realization as we passed one part of a temple there, that still hasn’t fully hit me.  Back home (USA), we have houses, etc., designed to look like traditional Japanese architecture, yes?  When I was looking at the temple building, my background, passive thought was the same as when I see such styles back home… and then I realized that this building is not made to ‘look like those buildings in Japan.’  This building IS ‘those buildings in Japan.’  It’s still sinking in.
(1) I can note here that I’d actually gone down to Tokyo that Friday night, just after discovering that I had internet in the 7/11 parking lot, which is down the street from my apartment (so I was able to find it without getting lost or anything – FYI streets don’t exactly have names here).  I was absolutely ready to cry from the stress of sitting around, waiting for people to take forever to accomplish tasks – unfortunately, my supervisor has never done this sort of thing before, so she had to have everything explained to her multiple times – and not knowing how I was even going to get dinner (I only found the 7/11 that night).
A friend who already had a phone (because he speaks Japanese, and so figured it out while we’d all been at orientation), happened to be in Tokyo for a festival with a coworker and the coworker’s friend, and invited me to come down for the evening.  So, I managed to access train schedules (just barely with the internet connection there), screen shotted them, and set up a rescue plan, should things not work out (i.e. I knew 7/11 had internet, so I’d go find any 7/11, and the friend would come find me there), before rushing off to Tokyo.
I walked right into my friend when I arrived in Tokyo, and was given a nice, big hug.  Hugs are really one of the best medicines.  We watched the tail end of the festival (very cool with dancing performances and drums and bells all along this long street), and then all went to dinner.  Turns out I only live a town over from the coworker’s friend, and she and I decided to be friends.  (We’ve been in touch ever since.)
Post-a-day 2018

The world turned upside down

The internet went out for a little while tonight…, and I find it somewhat hilarious that it was sort of a huge deal for the others in the house, and I almost couldn’t have cared less.  I did, after all, live several months wihout internet at home, both in the US and in Japan, and I even spent some months without cell service or phone service of any kind either…  I kind if enjoyed the certainty of quiet that it allowed.
  Knowing that no call or text or e-mail would arrive on any device whenever I was at home, was like breathing freely in a whole new way.  And all the important people knew my situation, so they knew to show up at my door if they wanted anything immediate, or to plan enough ahead to tell me to go check something at a certain time, using the WiFi down the road.

I almost miss that.  I certainly miss the reliability of work and income I’d had at the time.  😛  But that’s not really the point here, now, is it?

Post-a-day 2018


Speaking of mountains…

I brought my Mt. Fuji hiking stick to show my cousin (who’s in town(ish) briefly) and aunt and uncle, because I knew they could and would appreciate not only the accomplishment it represents, but also just how cool the stick itself is.

In showing my cousin the stick tonight, we got into questions about hiking mountains and the experiences tied to them.  The absolutely silly part of that particular mountain experience was the fact that, while at the top of the mountain, finally resting, we were told that we needed to rush off the mountain, because a typhoon (hurricane) was coming.  Cool.  So, that made for a hurried departure from the top, and inadequate preparations for the painful and long, bathroom-less and water-less descent.

On a similar note, my cousin had a time on a sacred mountain in India (that part is important), where he had his own troubles with water.  Because the mountain is sacred, you see, it is said that no shoes may go on the mountain – it must be hiked barefoot.  My cousin respected this declaration, though his companions did not.  He also discovered afterward that it apparently is rather common even for native Indians to wear shoes for the trek.  Oh, well… Anyway, so this mountain is rocky, and there isn’t exactly a clear and clean path to follow.  By the time they reached the summit, his feet were scorched, and needed a rest.  He had brought plenty of water (carrying at least two two-liter bottles in his pack, plus his regular water bottle, I believe.), so they were in no specific hurry to get back down the mountain.  So, he and his companions set down their gear to give their backs a rest, and walked around the summit a little bit.  When they returned to their bags, what did they find?  Well, they found monkeys… stealing, you guessed it, the waters.  Did the monkeys take other things, like food or small things?  No.  They took the water.  Kind of makes you want to laugh hysterically and punch a monkey at the same time, doesn’t it?  😛

Just know: I really do love monkeys.  I just would want to punch almost anybody who stole all of my water in a situation like that, be it person, monkey, or zebra.  Fight or flight leans to fight in that circumstance for me, it seems.  😛

Anyway, fun mountain stories, huh?

Post-a-day 2018