Sunday, September 30, 2007

i've been trying to knock my head, but it's like i've got a broken neck

i have the biggest tonsils in the world. seriously. they're like ugly red golf balls in my throat. every doctor who's ever looked in my mouth has gone with some variation of, "oh my goodness!" this anatomical disgustingness didn't even dawn on me until several years ago when i saw someone else's politely hidden tonsils. if it were a personality contest, my tonsils would win the crown for their gaudy extroversion. so when these suckers start to swell, it hurts. if i sound like i'm gargling with cotton when i speak, it's because i'm being strangled from the inside. i spent all weekend having tea with my ailing throat and its buddies: Body Ache and Pounding Headache.
i seem to be better now, though i'm oddly twitchy at night, and i haven't been sleeping very well. however, i have a big weekend to osaka planned, and nothing will keep me down! my new friend danielle (who is actually my age, bonus!) and i will be staying in a capsule hotel, so i'll make a full report. i'm so excited to finally check that off my list! planning this trip necessitated my First Entirely Japanese Phone Call, and i'm proud i emerged unscathed. not so last week when steph called me from the waxing salon hoping i could converse with the bikini waxing lady about something mysterious. i really wish i knew what she said, 'cause that's bound to have been an interesting conversation!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

nerd army

kara and i did some of the most satisfying purikura ever the other day. unlike the usual dazed looks we sport after emerging from a booth that shouts at you in japanese and flashes your picture at unexpected times, we both walked away going, "yeah! that was good." here's my favorite of the day.

i also decided it was high time for me to nerd up in the nerd army and become one of the thousands of other foreigners in japan who read manga. manga are graphic novels, in japanese, and they're ridiculously popular among high school students. i decided i would benefit in several ways. i'll be able to relate to my students better (that's a huge motivation, 'cause that's one of the best perks of my job), and it will improve my conversational japanese ('cause they write it how people talk, not how reference books talk). the illustrations are pretty incredible too. i dived in last night, armed with my pencil and kanji dictionary and made it deep into the third page. woo-HOO, i'm cruising now! yeah, i'm slow, but hey, it's laborious looking up 75% of the words on every page. imagine reading a book like that. but i'm stalwart when it involves art and language. here is the title page and an excerpt from my first ever manga: Ouran High Host Club.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

it melts in your house not in your hand

the rest of the world is enjoying something called autumn, but the heat's heart has yet to break. i foolishly believed today's grey[1] skies would bring something other than endless itchy trickles of sweat, but it was rainy and 88 degrees. go figure. in fact, the huge bottle of honey that crystallized months ago has melted completely back into liquid, and all the chocolate reclining around the house has to be licked from the wrappers. not that i mind.
this morning i was disturbed by a very obvious white patch of skin above my left eyebrow that wasn't there yesterday. i mean, whiter than the rest of my western european-ancestored face. skin cancer? not likely. i mean, hell, i haven't seen the likes of some good ol' fashioned vitamin D since i was in high school. and that was (ahem) ten years ago, or so i've been told. i then realized that, no, i didn't have that monster-making pigmentation diease with which michael jackson was supposedly stricken, i was simply peeling from a surprisingly fierce sunburn. this is a memento from two full days under sun on grass, and in spite of copious sunscreen applications.
our two day trip to awaji island (first time off honshu) had all the makings of an epic. we got up[2] at the ungodly hour of 2:30 am and drove a twisty turny[3] road through the mountains of nara. we had breakfast, already ragged, at a rest stop with a ferris wheel and a view of the awaji bridge. and then they played soccer all day, suckers, and i watched and screamed and shook my homemade pom-poms.
that night i walked to a party much too far away for my amateur high heel gait. the sultry air was just perfect for my strapless dress, though, and i got a whispered compliment about my hair that was quite unexpected. it was a little too three bears for me, though. this bar is too quiet, this one too loud. this one has too few people, this one too many. this one has no dancing, and in this one, the DJ sucks. i had a good time, but i didn't stay out late, and rather than break my face or my feet, i slipped off my shoes and walked back to the hotel with jill.
the ride home the next night was even worse than the drive up. after two full days of cheering in the elements, we piled into a car bound for a three-hour traffic jam. after we emerged from that mess, worn out and not certain about our path home, we chanced to meet a rainstorm that would keep us on the edge of our seats all the way home. you see, this particular road is prone to rock slides[4] which take enormous chunks of the road down the side of the mountain (and cars too, if they're there), and a downpour like fake movie rain doesn't help. quiet and tense, we slalomed down the mountain past the construction where the last fatal rock slide was. there was so much water everywhere, but kara and i both gasped when we passed an unbelievable, violent torrent on one side...and it was only the first one. that's when i was truly scared. she drove like crazy to get us off the road before the whole thing washed away, but i was also afraid of hydroplaning. it was a delicate balance. we arrived home around midnight, and i practically wept.

i reject "gray" as a viable spelling of this word. i mean gray is too broad, no gravity, all overblown hand gestures and monotony. now grey is a word that's squinting its beady black eyes. it could be the color of a mean sky or the dense fur of a wolf with its eyes trained on you and its hackles raised.

"got up" is a generous idea. in reality we whipped our underslept carcasses into some clothes and stumbled through the mist into dark cars.

another romanticization. this road is so twisty, half the time you're heading back the way you came. every drippy, endless tunnel from which you emerge has a 90 degree turn so you can never see what's ahead, nor can you see the alleged light. it feels like you're driving straight to hell, and it looks like it too.

a fancy term for Crushing Freefall Of Death.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

no comment

how could i forget this little gem spotted in the circle K candy aisle and immortalized by my phone camera??

Monday, September 10, 2007

you may need a little hanky for your...

well, i want to write, but all i have time for these days is work. i mean, actual work, not just internet-guzzling.
however, the puppeteers of humor have been handing me some lovingly-wrapped bits of crazy, so those will have to amuse you until i can ink out some words of my own.

the panky was actually pretty good for japanese chocolate and gave our sleepover party some "just on the brink of a sexy pillow fight" credibility. supposedly it has twice-baked bread crumbs inside (read: crunchy bits, which megan said felt like chewing glass), and the best part is this particular variety is "mild bitter Panky." while we were having our giggles, the innocent little kittens of japan were getting addicted to:

CATSMACK! buyer beware.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


i've been working for six days straight; today is the seventh (sunday). it's abhorrent enough to be required to work straight through the weekend and into the week, but now they're tacking on another day!! we were supposed to have our school's cultural festival today, clean up tomorrow and finally have tuesday and wednesday off. however this morning, due to a pathetic threat of rain, we are now officially doing nothing today, but we still can't leave. and we have to work tuesday. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! it better rain like the second great flood. (sunny and 84 degrees right now.) i also have to sit here and listen to this phlegmy old man try and cough up the biggest lugie in the world.
[amendment: they changed it so we don't have to work tuesday. phew!]

moving on!
yesterday my school had it's chorale and band performances. the gym was hot, and all the fans waving in people's hands looked like the flicker and flutter of enormous butterfly wings.
we also had sports day, something totally perplexing to me last year, since it wasn't really "sports" as much as team games and races. since i knew a lot of the students this year, it was much more exciting, and i may even have cheered a little bit.
starting the day off with a bang...they have no idea that this looks like "heil hitler."

the left front boy is one of my favorite students, hakuma, dressed up in a wig and makeup. japanese boys make surprisingly hot japanese girls. he was even stroking the ends of his hair in a convincingly girlish fashion.

i love that these kendo uniforms are so usual...just a typical japanese thing. they look awesome!

here's a relay race about keeping the ping-pong ball in the ladle.

and here's some actual muscle and speed. the guy smiling is kei, another of my students. i have never ever looked this happy while running.

most badass of the day, however, is always the traditional clothes they wear. i mean, i know they're high school boys and everything, but wow! takayuki on the left requested jokingly in class that i call him "master taka," so i do. he also asked me what "lol" means. oh the wealth of knowledge i provide.

and the parting shot: a big group of my best boys hang out by the train station every evening. after their big sports day, i asked if i could take a picture, thinking they'd shrug and let me, but instead they leapt into action!