An unhappy belly and body

Today, I am not well… bad not well. I’ve poured forth the sparse contents of my stomach three terrible times, complete with crying and a near-inability to hold myself up during it. Someone offered to call an ambulance for me, even. God, heal me, please.

Post-a-day 2017


The pleasurable nose blow

Think of the last time you blew your nose?  Was it one of those quiet, sneaky-type nose blows, as though you’re trying to hide the fact that you’re blowing your nose?  Or was it one of those really satisfying ones, where it isn’t exactly loud, but it is full?

I almost exclusively do the latter, and it always feels amazing.  As I blew my nose for the third time after eating this Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) with some deliciously and painfully nice jalapeños sliced in it, I began considering the feeling after blowing my nose.  Do you know the one I mean?  In an almost sort of daze, I take my first breath through my freshly freed nose, and possibly share the intake of breath with my mouth, and then almost sigh the air out of me, releasing some unknown tension, somewhere in my body.  I usually end up mostly breathing out of my mouth afterward, and just allow my nose to rest – this light come from the feeling of blowing my nose when it is really stuffed up and runny, and blowing it seems only to clear out one set of mucus and snot in order to make space for the immediate arrival of another.  In those cases, the feeling and experience are almost the same.  It is a hazy happiness of release and deep breathing (usually through the mouth) that feels almost magical.  I almost even have an urge to cyclist my eyes at times, and to indulge momentarily in the after effects of the nose-blowing.

If you have no idea what I am referencing here, give it a try some time.  Blow your nose really satisfyingly hard (the emphasis of really being on satisfyingly, not hard), and take the time to pay attention to the experience immediately following.  If you still don’t get it, then oh, well… I’ll enjoy the experience enough for us both.

And then some…

Post-a-day 2017

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).


Post-a-day 2017


Asia?  Really?  Really

Who would have thought that I would spend a year of my life living in Asia?  I never even had any real desire to go to Asia, until I met my circus acrobat friends, who are from China.  But the desire that developed out of those friendships was merely a cultural trade among friends – I had shared it of my home with them, and now they wanted to give the same to me.  In essence, I want to go to China to be with my friends, not because I am specifically aiming to see China.  Nothing against China, of course – I just have never had a real desire to see it.

On that note, – let’s roll with the thoughts here – I feel as though I have a rather ability to distinguish between my real desires and my that-would-be-cool desires.  I explain.  When I have what I am currently calling a “real desire”, it is something that I intend to pursue.  With general desires, they are things that would be nice to pursue, but I have no deeper intentions to pursue them.  These are, of course, both to varying degrees.

Being a multi-millionaire would be amazing.  I desire it.  I truly do.  However, it is not something I intend to pursue, as much as I may wish to attain it.  It is a general desire for me.  Returning to German-speaking Europe for Christmas markets is a “real desire”, as I am calling them (Can you tell that I don’t much like my current terminology?).  No, I will not do it this year, most likely, and probably not next year either.  However, it is in my thoughts, and I intend to do it at some point.

This is where the varying degrees comes in for distinguishing.  This is one of my middle-range real desires.  Yes, I want to do it, and yes, I believe I will do it.  No, I am not in a hurry to do it.  Having a frozen margarita in Texas is more of an immediate real desire.  I will not wait for this one to come up somewhat conveniently, and then take action, or casually plan for it in my some time soon future.  My mother is picking me up at the airport when I arrive home to Houston, and she has known for months that I want to go have margaritas the day I arrive.  We are getting margaritas within hours of my arrival to Texas, and are only taking that long, because I want it fresh, customs and immigration and baggage take time, and the airport is a ways away from good margaritas.  Essentially, I am pursuing this desire as soon as it is possible for it to be fulfilled.

One other example, just for clarity (or to confuse you more, if this all doesn’t make sense to you), could be in my desire to bungee jump off a bridge that is over water.  Something a long time ago gave me the desire, but it was more of an unreal desire for me.  I didn’t expect my life to have it ever be an option.  However, once I went small-scale bungee jumping with friends, it began to shift to a real desire.  I was afraid to pursue it, so I left it in the gray area, ready to be pursued, should the opportunity arise.  Now that I have lived somewhere that offers such a thing, – Ibaraki, Japan – I see myself pursuing it.  I notice that it is not huge in my list of desires, but it is a real one.  The opportunity presented itself two weeks ago, and I made arrangements to go jump.  Of course, timing was such that I got dreadfully sick the day beforehand, and so rescheduled with my friend.  I am now scheduled to go with a different friend next week.  If it doesn’t work out, I’ll be okay.  This is a real desire that I have, but it is so much on a non-time limit that I am okay not doing it now – I know I will get around to it at some point, so I don’t have to hassle myself extremely to make it work at this one place.  That being said, I really do want to handle it all now, and bungee off my bridge in Japan, partly because it’s one less thing for me to think about in the future, and partly because it makes for a fun story.  And I used the word “handle,” not because I dislike the situation, but because a lot of things here recently have kind of been a real hassle for me, and so I tend to think more in terms of ‘managing’ things in life for the next two weeks, as opposed to just ‘living’ life and ‘creating’ things, and all that jazz.
Anyway, that was a fun tangent for me.  I could have explained it loads better, but I didn’t.  I hope that’s okay for now.  I’m sitting on a train to go up to my final festival in Japan, and I really need to pee, but don’t want to bother using what might be a gross train toilet (notice that I have no concern for leaving my belongings at my seat – score one big one for Japan on this point), when I know I can make it all the way to the station.  So, I have written this to help me pass the time without wandering thoughts on the discomfort of a filling bladder (the realness of the discomfort can be evidenced by the fact that my shorts haven’t been buttoned for close to an hour already).  I dislike writing on my phone, and for more than one reason (physical slowness of thumb typing and high error rate are two of the main ones).  Therefore, I’ll end with this:

I never expected to end up living in Asia, for any period of time.  I especially did not expect it to be for longer than I had lived in any country other than my own.  I like Europe.  I would have expected my doing a year there long before I even visited Asia.  But here I am, one year through (and very through, I do believe) life in Asia.  It has turned out that Japan is not a very good place for me to live my life, but that I really do appreciate Asia.  I actually have real desire to return to Asia, and to experience more of it.  Japan, Korea, and Singapore have only gotten me started, it seems.

In a way, it is stressful, because there are now even more places I want to visit.  However, I will just roll with what life offers to me, and aim for returning for at least one visit for a start, hopefully within the next few years.  I’d say that this is a middle-range real desire, similar to, and likely above the Christmas Market one.  It’ll happen, I believe, as I have full intentions for it to happen.  It’s a real desire I have.  Life does what it does, though, so we’ll just have to see.  For now, I’m at the end of the train line in the next minute or three, so I’ll go wrangle my baggage – giving away loads of nut butters, smoothie boosters, and spices, as well as my Magic Bullet (c) (Is that right?) – and head for my friend who is meeting me at the station.  Then I’ll use a bathroom either there or at her nearby home.  And then we’ll enjoy fireworks and a festival, possibly in the rain.  Whatever the case, we will enjoy it, which is a main part of what called to mind my thoughts on having lived here in the first place.

Post-a-day 2017


The stress…

It is finished.

I am officially out of my old apartment (now it is old, I suppose). As of around ten-ish this morning, I am free of it and obligations relating to that little town.  Sure, I’ll be back up there to visit next week, and to help out with a few things later this week, but that is all voluntary.  My obligations are complete.

And it feels amazing, I’m sure.  It’s just that, as per my usual case, I am painfully ill now.

Whenever I have a short-term, end-in-sight, super-stress time, it is inevitably followed by illness.  And the illness’s intensity just might be linked to the intensity of the stress.  If so, oh, boy – this could be rough.  This time, however, I easily cancelled my plans for tomorrow (and earlier today).  I had one thing tonight that I wanted to make sure I did.  Otherwise, though, I have turned my next 36+ hours into sleep, water, and rest time.  I hope it saves me.
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


Japanese Health Clinic

My experience today with Japanese health was an interesting one.  I walked to a clinic in my neighborhood late this morning, because I had intense flu symptoms all weekend, and I needed a note to miss work.  I wasn’t feeling so great today anyway, as I had already suspected would be the case last night, but my supervisor from work told me that I just needed to stay home today no matter what, and go to a doctor at some point for the doctor’s note.

Why?  Well, apparently schools have a very specific protocol for people with influenza.  If you have influenza, I was told, the first day you have fever counts as Day 0.  After Day 5, you are allowed to return to school. (So six days total that you must remain absent from school.)  However, you must have at least 48 hours between the time you last had a fever and the time you return to school.  So, while it can be longer, you have a minimum influenza quarantine of sorts of six days, no matter what.

Now, for my job, we have a differentiation between personal/vacation days and sick days.  However, to set your sick days as sick days, you need a doctor’s note.  And, by a doctor’s note, they really just mean the dated receipt that you are given when you pay your 20-ish dollars at the end of your visit to the doctor.  So, I had to go see a doctor today in order not to have to take three days of vacation days for my required absence (read banishment) from school this week.

I found the clinic alright, despite the name having been misspelled in the e-mail to me about the clinic.  Walking in, I noticed that, naturally, nothing was in English.  I had no idea what to do, but saw a small room with benches and people, and a small desk-type area that was not very reception-y.  A lady approached me and handed me one of their white masks*, which I accepted gracefully, as I asked if anyone spoke any English.**  She said that the doctor knew some, and so I wandered into the waiting room behind her.

She asked for my insurance card, which I gave, and then attempted to pronounce my name, which is written quite clearly on the card in Japanese lettering (katakana).  For those who don’t know, you can’t mispronounce this sort of thing, because each ‘letter’ only has one way to be pronounced, no matter how it is combined with other ‘letters’,  Nonetheless, I had to help her read the name aloud for some reason.  Whatever…

So I sat and waited on one of the benches.  One of the ladies came back with some paperwork for me to fill out (yes, in Japanese), and handed me a small thermometer.  I had some hesitation in using it, though I couldn’t quite tell why.  Nonetheless, I eventually stuck it in my mouth, and it proved that my fever had, indeed, resided.

As I waited, more people arrived and did as I had done, minus asking about the English.  I eventually noticed that there was only one thermometer, and that the lady would do one single, quick (with no twist or anything) swipe of the bottom part of it with what looked like an alcohol swab each time after someone new used it.  I solidly decided not to think about it – I already had germs enough in me to manage for this week – , but I made an inner snarky comment of If I wasn’t already infected, I sure will be now before setting it aside.

Eventually, a version of my name was said over this scratchy speaker in the ceiling, and I was summoned to room #1.  I found out after this little bit that my supervisor had already called and mentioned that I was coming, and so perhaps she gave enough details for their concerns, because I found it rather odd how the doctor instantly asked me, ‘So, you might have influenza?’ and then asked only two or three other questions before shoving the swab thing up my nose for the 60% success rate rapid flu diagnostic test.

It was only when the test came out negative a while later, and I responded with a ‘Seriously?’ to the doctor’s confident declaration that I ‘just have a cold’, that the doctor asked my symptoms.  For the previous three-ish days, I had had high fever, intense muscle pain all over my body, a horrendous and throbbing headache (even causing my hearing to be pained), and a sore chest with some coughing, and I hardly could get out of bed for anything other than the bathroom or more water.  Today, however, things were significantly improved, and my fever had finally broken yesterday (so, no more fever today, but still low-level aches and pains of all sorts).

Nonetheless, – and I partially attribute this to a lost-in-translation bit – he prescribed me a different medicine for each of these ailments, to last me for five days.  I went and sat in the waiting area for the third and final time, before being called up to the desk again, paying about $20 US, being given two receipts and my insurance card, and being pointed to the building across the street.

Across the street, I used my Google Translate app to translate a questionnaire about ‘Are you pregnant?”, ‘Do you have any history of severe illness?’, ‘What allergies do you have?’ and the likes (plus one question I never quite figured out about ‘Generic Medicine’ or something), waited a few minutes, and then paid just over $5 US for a baggie full of medicines I didn’t want.  (Really, I just wanted the receipt from my doctor’s visit, and then to go back home and have a green smoothie and some sleep.)  But, hey, at least it all cost me only about $25 US for the visit and the meds.  Could have been much worse than that.

When I called back my supervisor, at her request, to inform her of the results and the rest of my visit, she said she’d talk to the Vice Principle and call me back after a while.  About ten minutes later, she called and informed me that, though the Vice Principle was on a business trip for the day, she, the head of teachers, and the school nurse had all convened and decided that, despite the rapid flu test, I had the flu, and so can not return to school until Thursday at the earliest (and even later, if I am still sick Thursday), and that it would all count as sick days (since I had gone to the doctor today).  She said she would inform my visit school of this, she wished me well, and she told me to call if I needed anything these next few days on my own.  I thanked her, and that was that.

So, I unofficially officially have the flu.


*I must admit, I have a sort of odd phobia against these masks.  I think they remind me of the feeling of being stuck under the blankets too long in bed, making the air super stuffy and hard to breathe, but then add in the factor of their being hooked around your ears, like then pressing the blankets against your mouth, increasing the intense suffocation and decreasing the chance of fresh air entering your mouth or nostrils… and so these masks elicit in me a sort of instant panic whenever I consider actually putting one on my face.

**Okay, I realize I am in Japan.  I am not aiming to disrespect their culture by wanting English here.  I simply do not know enough Japanese to work my way through a medical visit, in which every detail counts, and the slightest misunderstanding could be incredibly troublesome and even dangerous.