Monday, October 23, 2006

hypochondria as an art form

how many times have i prayed not to have the flesh-eating virus? more than you might think. granted, it's been given an updated, passably-cute image by these people, but i'd still rather not suffer something so icky as tissue death. lucky for me, i just have that crazy leg-itch. i'm afraid it's getting worse, not better, in spite of cutting eggs and milk from my diet. (haha ice cream doesn't have milk in it! what are you--crazy?!)

though SO much has happened since last week, i did promise to discuss the smells of tokyo, which totally unlike me, i forgot to mention. no, tokyo doesn't smell like emotional isolation...or maybe my nose isn't sensitive to that. though i'm sure there are some areas that do smell like cat pee, tokyo is one of the only places i've been in japan that doesn't have an odor even remotely resembling pee (sorry mom, someone asked). there were some exhaust fumes, which frankly i am happy to suck down once in awhile after being in the inaka for several months. what i did notice is that the tokyo and new york city subways smell the same! i've begun to love this fragrance of efficient mass transit. tokyo is one of the cleanest cities i've ever been in, so you mainly smell what's the case of tsukiji--fish. i didn't notice anything else.
as is natural (i suppose) in a culture where a great deal of time is spent on public transit, people have gotten really good at public sleeping. never in my life have i seen people pass out so quickly and without embarrassment. of course, they never miss their train stops either. while in tokyo, we sat directly across from a young businessman who had fallen asleep while texting. his phone was still open and propped on his lap, but he was miles away. then his phone started to ring! his eyes opened, he sat up straight, and he took the call with none of the "where am i, what's my name?" that i would be feeling if i was startled from my cat nap on the train.
i left off on day one, and though this post isn't supposed to be about tokyo, i felt there were a few other things i should mention. most startling were my incredible feelings of awkwardness around other foreigners. in my town, there are four americans. i know them all, and everyone else i see is of the nihonjin persuasion. tokyo is a different story. imagine being in an elevator when an english-speaker i Don't Know steps in. i had the urge to giggle uncomfortably. i think i DID giggle uncomfortably. it's not like i didn't expect to see other foreigners, on the contrary, but my own reaction was quite a surprise. i guess coming home for christmas will be even more interesting now.
we met fiona and sam for lunch in harajuku, and since they're the cutest aussie couple ever, i had to post a picture. i'm so glad they decided to stay a third year so i got to meet them.

here's my dear massa: the roommate who started it all. if i hadn't met her, i wouldn't be here.

lauren sporting the nini's shirt in ikebukuro before boarding the night bus back to mie. please don't ruin it for me and show the nini's people this picture. i want to do it myself.

ok, i need to take a break for a few minutes, but i'll be back very soon with another post.
crap! i forgot something else. i have heard tales of the great lengths strangers in japan have gone to in order to help us lost gaijin, but i hadn't experienced it myself until our last night in tokyo. we were searching for the place where our bus was supposed to pick us up. it wasn't, in fact, the same place where we were dropped off. we asked an employee of the same bus line and he tried very hard to explain, but we wandered off feeling less than sure we understood. we crossed a huge intersection and were turning around looking for the police box the man had mentioned, when we spotted a bus driving slowly by and the man was aboard gesturing wildly at us and pointing the way!

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