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Of meals

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/16/2005 9:06:37 AM
Happy birthday, Papa! ^__^ Tonight we had a nice birthday dinner for Papa, which consisted of sashimi, tempura, special rice, and, of course, lots of Japanese spirits. *laughs* You can't have a party in Japan without alcohol, ya know. *laughs again* Natsuko's boyfriend came over again (as he has several times in the past), and we all had a good time. Lots of talking, laughing, giving-Gerf-all-the-cake-ish-ness. The Japanese just don't eat sweet stuff like we do. ;)

Earlier on in the day, Saki-chan made a pancake lunch for Natsuko, Mama, and me (with Mama's help, of course), and it was really good. That is the second time I've had pancakes since coming to Japan, and boy did that remind me how much I love pancakes. *laughs* Pancakes = awesome. Like, totally and then some. Saki-chan couldn't finish hers, so she gave it to me. Mama gave me some of hers, too. Like I said, Japanese can't handle sweet stuff like us Americans can!

Other than the two communal meals, today was pretty much work-on-my-own day. I'm developing some interesting new web software for the website project I'm working on, which involves completely throwing out everything I've done before and redoing it essentially from scratch. It frustrated me for a while, but I think I made it over the conceptual hurdle I was stuck at and things seem to be moving along nicely now. The big thing I wanted to do was change my current design of a million pages designed to access one function to one function designed to access a million pages. On the surface, it may not really seem like anything important; however, when you want to make a change to something, or add something new, or abstract code, this technique becomes much more useful than my previous one. If I can pull this off, I think future development will become much, much easier. That, and it's awesome coding practice. ^__^

I think I'm at the point right now where I'm ready to go home, but I'm willing to finish up what's left. I want to go back to my family and Kristin, but I also want to finish up what's here. It's like... well, what is it like. It's like a big meal. You see it for the first time and you're like, "Wow, this is absolutely amazing." Then you start eating it and say, "Whoa, I've never had this stuff before. It's different, but it's pretty good." A little through it, though, you say, "Yeah, there's a reason I've never had this before... it's not sitting well in my stomach." Eventually, though, you get used to it, and you talk with the other people at the table and have a good time as you finish up what's left. There's that dessert coming up, though, which you look forward to, but after that you get to go home and relax. I'm kind of at that point... the point where I'm talking with people and dessert is just around the corner. I'm ready to head out, but I know there's still dessert left. And when the dessert starts, I'm not going to want it to end. However, when it does invariably end, I'll be ready to go home.

Yeah, if that made ANY sense to you, congratulations. ;) I think I ate too much for dinner; I feel weird. I should probably take a bath and get to sleep.
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Of sleeping on nice days

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/17/2005 7:14:18 AM
The weather was absolutely beautiful today. Like, really. Unfortunately, I was too tired to really take advantage of it. I did some reading outside for a little while, perched up on a big red rock with Nana dozing at the base, but after that I went up to my room and slept for two or three hours. I don't know what it is with me... sometimes I'll just get really, really tired, even if I've gotten enough sleep and even if it's a nice day outside. Blah.

At least I get three-day weekends every week. That's excellent. Not sure how that ties in with anything, but yeah.

Um, just busy. That's about it.
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Posted by: badcheeso 4/17/2005 8:35:12 PM
That's nice.

Soemtimes it's nice just to "see" what you do. Now that we've been there, maybe, sometimes you could just describe what you see as you sit there. You don't have to explain the universe or comtemplate your navel or how you feel that moment. Just a description of what you're looking at is good for us.

Mom and I talk about how nice it will be when both you guys get home. We also talk about how strange it will be when our birds return to the nest. It WILL be strange for you too.

What's nice is when you talk about Takadanobaba, we know what you mean. Or any place else that we've seen.

Keep yourself healthy. Try taking an allegra. I've had to take some myself. Been very tired also. Vitamins are good too.

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Of picking up trash

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/18/2005 7:40:02 AM
Today I talked with my buds back home about room selection for next year... or, in our case, apartment selection. We narrowed our search down to four possible layouts, and there are two in particular we'd really like. The room lottery is in a day or three, so I hope that goes well. I'm really, really looking forward to going back home and going back to Case... after a nice summer vacation, of course. Got lotsa fun things planned before I head back to school, after all. ^__^

Took a walk in the afternoon and picked up a lunch at Itoyokado. I decided to sit down in the little park nearby (essentially an open gravel place with two benches and a little kiddie ride thingie) to eat, but noticed that where I was sitting was completely surrounded with trash and cigarette butts. Apparently, the previous million people who sat at that bench decided it would be a good idea to leave all their junk behind. I felt like such a dirty hobo sitting there, eating lunch at 2:30 or so, pigeons walking up to me but not really wanting to eat any of the food I had. Gah. All that trash got me so mad that I went ahead and picked up eight cans and bottles, though there was still a ton left over and I wasn't about to touch some of it without special gloves.

I swear, when I return home, I'm getting some gloves and a garbage bag and I'm going to go around and pick up trash in public places. It makes me sick and I don't want to see it on my planet anymore.

Anyway, yeah. Today I also learned a lot more about programming and got some pretty neat things going. If I were working full-time on this I'd be moving ahead a lot faster... but as it were now, I'm, like, pseudo-part-time. I plan on switching gears in the summer, though, and working on it as much as I can. Here... well, sometimes I roar ahead, sometimes I kind of lag. During the lag times, however, I'm learning new things, and that's what makes it so cool. Even if I'm not making something useful at the moment, chances are I'm researching something that'll make things better later on down the road.

Gah, it's only been two weeks of classes and I'm already antsy to have them over with. It's not a particularly difficult schedule (though I probably shouldn't speak so soon, knowing what happened last semester), but I'm just ready to come home. There's a family I need to see again and a little blue parakeet I need to meet and a girl named Kristin I need to hug. Just two more months.
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Of mood swings..?

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/19/2005 8:57:34 AM
Bleh, Tuesdays are just bleh. I don't really have many classes (just two Japanese and Microeconomics), but it's just bleh getting back into the week. Even more bleh when you botch the quizzes in both the classes. Well, okay, I guess 7/10 isn't horrible, but it's not great, either. I thought I knew those vocabulary words well. They just 出てこない when it's time for the quiz sometimes.

On my way home I started feeling really, really bad, and I was totally planning on just sleeping for the rest of the day because I didn't want to deal with anything. However, I came home and did a few things and my mood went right up, and that made me feel really good. I wanted to do some reading outside again, but it got dark too quickly for that... oh well, there's always... um, all the time. *laughs*

The weather's been quite nice here lately. June is supposed to be rainy season, though. Heh, hopefully it won't totally drench all my stuff on the way home. ;)
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Of three cups of goodness

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/20/2005 7:50:32 AM
I like Wednesdays. I also like Mondays. And Fridays. And weekends. And, you know what, when I go back to Case in the fall, I'm also going to like those days very much. They're nice and light. Tuesdays and Thursdays are going to be pains in the rear, but that's okay.

Er, yeah. Nothing much today except some drizzly rain. I had a cup of OJ for breakfast along with some toast and marmelade that Mama gave me, which was later joined by a cup of corn potage and a cup of hot chocolate. Saki-chan dipped her finger in each mug to see what all the different colors and flavors were. *laughs* She's cute. She's also a very good reason to not want any kids for a good long while. I'd actually like to host a foreign student or two before having kids... I think. I guess we'll find out.

Studying. I guess.
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Of blahness

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/21/2005 8:21:41 AM
Ugh, I feel horribly blah right now. Didn't feel well during class, didn't fell well coming back from class, didn't fell well at dinner. My mind was all messed up on the way home so I cracked and bought some anpan, something I haven't bought in a long time (mostly because the calorie count of those things is horrendous), and that actually helped a little.

The computer my economic development teacher was using committed harikari today and I wasn't able to fix it, but it did give me a good chance to talk with him about economic stuff. It's really interesting stuff I never really thought about before and I enjoy it... too bad I'm going to be tested on it, though. Oh, and when I got to the train station to head home, I noticed it looked a little more crowded than usual for some reason. Not thinking anything was TOO out of the ordinary, I hopped on the escalator (both sides of which were full, oddly), and when I got closer to the top I saw the ENTIRE platform was completely full of people. Something must have happened on the tracks, because the trains were all backed up and their time schedules were invisible.

When the steps flattened out and it was nearing the time for me to get off the escalator (like, literally, in one second), I realized, "Holy hep, nobody's moving except the people on this escalato--" and BLAM I got pushed into the people in front of me. And then, naturally, the people behind me got pushed into me, and we all smooshed ourselves forward even though there was seriously no space to smoosh into. Somehow we managed to not anyone off the platform, though, and we all managed to get to where we needed to be. When the next scheduled train came (a local to Shin-Tokorozawa, something I technically can take to get home but never really do), it quickly got so packed that, despite their best shoving efforts, some people simply could not get on. The doors closed on people's arms and bookbags and stuff, and the train staff had to go down the line and shove limbs and such into the cars, just like you see on TV and stuff (though this wasn't the first time I had seen it, not by a long shot). The people smooshed up against the doors looked positively miserable as they rolled by when the train finally got underway. Glad I didn't take that train. o_O;;

Gotta study for this kanji test tomorrow... even though I really don't need to that much. I just like studying kanji, and I wish I could do that more. I kind of wish I didn't have to drop my kanji workshop, but... eh. I dunno. It was kind of necessary. *sighs*

I'm going to go shave. And then... something. Mrmrmrmrmgmrghrhmrhg.
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Of losing my glasses

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/22/2005 8:51:59 AM
Mama made me an awesome breakfast this morning with a placemat and a salad and raisin bread and a fork and everything, and she made gyoza for dinner today. That's awesome. I needed that.

What I didn't need, though, was having Saki-chan wake me up from naps twice just so she could climb over me. She's been over-energetic and annoying tonight, and she got what was coming to her (in the form of some parental intervention). That worked for maybe five minutes. She's back to being crazy again. And I have this feeling she yoinked my glasses when she came in and woke me up the second time, because I seriously can't find them ANYWHERE. I'm using my backup pair, but dang they're making my eyes hurt. I know they didn't just get up and walk away, and I'm about 70% sure Saki-chan knows where they are... except she just innocently says "I dunno" and GRAH I want my glasses back.

Interesting sights recently: yesterday for dinner Mama and I watched this show where three teams built crazy-huge Rube Goldberg machines and had a competition to see which one was the best. And then today there was a bus that drove by with a picture of The Snowman on it. You know what I'm talking about? That really old movie about the kid who builds a snowman that comes to life and everything? Yeah, that snowman. Crazy.

Oh, and it's Earth Day today. I preserved $20 worth of jaguar habitat today, and have sworn to start picking up litter in my hometown when I get home to the States. What have you done?

The inability to find my glasses is going to drive me more insane tonight than I already am. I seriously put them down within arm-reach of my bed, since I took them off after putting my head on my pillow. And then they just vanished. Saki-chan's making unlimited noise downstairs, Nana's barking outside, my eyes hurt... heh, yeah, sorry. You don't want to hear me whine.

Ate at Wendy's today for lunch, since the plans for DDR were cancelled because one person decided to show someone around campus instead and the other person wasn't feeling well. I ordered a "size-up" (basically the Biggie), which brought the portions of fries and drink to "normal" American proportions. And speaking of food, I want to be able to cook different kinds of Japanese dishes for my family and apartment-mates next semester, since they're really yummy.

And my eyes hurt. I'm going to get back to studying. Or trying to, anyway. I don't know what's up with this microecon homework. It's supposed to be simple, but it's totally whack. I'm missing something and no matter where I look in the book I can't find it. If I'm still flailing around in a day or two I'm going to e-mail the instructor and ask him to explain this stuff he never covered in class.
1 reply

Disaster averted
Posted by: Gerf 4/22/2005 10:39:30 AM
Figured out the homework. Disaster averted. ^__^

Still haven't found my glasses yet, though. _
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Of a good day, for once

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/23/2005 8:14:36 AM
Nooo! I lost my game of Tetris! Booo! And it was due to stupid mistakes and a failure to follow my own rules. I guess it also didn't help that pieces weren't rotating and moving the way I expected them to, but, you know, when you lose a game of Tetris, it's always your fault. It's not like anyone else could have come in and messed it up for you. Well, as long as you don't lend out your cell phone or anything.

Anyway, my newest all-time best:

Score: 32524230
Lines: 6714
Level: 15 (15 is the highest, and I usually get there in about 12 minutes)
Time: 7:05:13
Tetris: 1240
T-Spin: 61
Rank: 1

*sighs* Looks like I'll just have to beat THAT record some other time.

Today actually wasn't too bad. I found my glasses (Saki-chan HAD taken them and had hid them in a box in the tatami room... I happened to find them after searching for quite a while), I got a nice chunk of homework and reading done, and the Kobayashis came over for dinner. Quite nice. Afterwards I did some Capoeira-ish moves for Saki-chan (and, inadvertedly, the rest of the family), and they all thought they were pretty sweet. Capoeira music will come up on my playlist every now and then and I'll remember how strenuous but also how fun Capoeira lessons were. I miss Case.

And Kristin. And my family. And even our little blue parakeet whom I have yet to meet.

With just two months left before I leave, I decided I'd finally put some stuff together in a box to ship home. I managed to fill the box my parents sent me through sea mail up with clothes and books and stuff, and I'll probably send that out sometime soon. It's going to be a pain writing down all the things in there, but that's okay. For some reason, I have an extremely hard time just throwing things out. Technically, I could pitch my textbooks and shirts and stuff, but I just can't do that. I don't know why. If somebody else does it for me I don't have as much of a problem, but I just can't do it myself. Maybe that's why I don't buy a whole lot: I don't want to have to part with it later on down the line.

Anyhoo, I'm all worn out now. Still gotta wrap a few things up, then I'm going to go to bed.

For once, I feel like I accomplished a good deal of things today.
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Of being home

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/24/2005 7:57:03 AM
Wow... for the second day in a row, it feels like I got a lot accomplished. This time I actually didn't get as much homework done... but instead I did other things that made the day... just... enjoyable.

My English lesson today turned into a walk to a place by the Higashimurayama station where they were having a photo exhibition. Mr. Hayashiya loves photography, and a lot of his friends and their pictures were there. I even got to talk to a few people, one who had a relative in Chicago. Whoo! We walked through the winding (and sharply-angling) streets of Higashimurayama after that and stopped by Osaku's house where we met his dog and where his mother gave me a bag of strawberries (which I later gave to the family and we ate for lunch with the Kobayashis). Oh, and that reminds me... on the way to the photo place, we ran into a lady who had this HUGE dog that was a mix of golden retreiver and... St. Bernard, perhaps? It was massive, and Osaku loved it. His name was "King," because the woman who owns him said she saw The Lion King and noticed a resemblance of him to the characters of the movie (I'd say either Mufasa or adult Simba... not sure which, though!). Very cool.

The Yoshitakas and Kobayashis were all doing heavy housework both inside and outside when I returned, including putting new paint/sealant on the porch, trimming the hedges, and waxing the floors. Talk about spring cleaning! We had a nice lunch and I helped with some of the stuff, but they pretty much had it under control so I spent a good long time playing with Saki-chan. She wanted to take a walk to the park, but I wasn't really up for it... I actually wanted to take a nap, but I knew she wouldn't let me do something like that. So instead I climbed around the rocks in the yard with her and kicked a ball around with her (and did some "weird things," as she said... basically just some fancy footwork). Finally, though, I cracked and popped her on my shoulders and carried her around the "block." Along the way we ran into the lady who lives across the street with her cat, and after we returned "home" we walked over and talked with her and played with the cat for a while. The cat was so tame and absolutely adorable... and it reminded me how much I love cats. I could tell it had been around for a while, though that's not to say it looked old and frail... just adult-ish. The poor thing had gotten some injury to one of its legs some time ago, though, and the whole leg was slightly atrophied and the paw was pretty much broken (it walked on the wrist). It was so very, very tame and sweet, though. The woman said it had been born in Atlanta and then came over alone to Japan when it was still a baby. Very sweet. ^__^

The woman was very sweet, too. Saki-chan absolutely insisted that we go in her house, which I knew was rude but she wouldn't have any of it. So the woman let her in (and later invited me in when it was clear Saki-chan wouldn't be leaving anytime soon) and we sat in there and watched Saki-chan suck up time as she sucked down milk from a... er, juicebox. Just it was a milkbox. *laughs* It turns out the woman had a relative in Chicago, too (small world!). Sweet. It took about an hour for me to finally convince Saki-chan to go home... actually, it was because Saki-chan wanted to go to the bathroom back home. *laughs* I felt so bad for having Saki-chan barge into the woman's house like that, but she didn't seem to mind all that much. What a nice old lady. I wish I would have gotten her name.

Had some coffee and cake and mushroom-and-omochi pizza (all made by Mama... well, except for the coffee beans, I guess) with the family and Kobayashis and two family friends after that, then finally got some time to take a nap and get going on a little bit of homework (though I didn't really get far). Before I knew it, I was eating dinner with everyone and the grandfather next door. Saki-chan climbed all over me during dinner, as usual, though I actually had quite a fun time. They gave me these anko things wrapped in leaves and grass, which I tied up into a necklace and took pictures of because it was funny. Mama got the idea that I should help out at a recycling place shouting "Irrashai irrashai irrashaiiiii!" ("Welcome welcome welcome!" basically), and Saki-chan decided to put on Papa's glasses and turn into a "gariben" (geek), according to Mama. *laughs* It was fun.

I've noticed that when I'm not really part of the conversation, I kind of stay out of it because I don't know when or how to jump in. If someone asks me a question about what I'm going to be doing during the day or what happened yesterday or something like that, sometimes I have difficulty answering it. But if I get into a conversation about something totally random, I can hold my own and talk away like I actually know what I'm saying. Like last night, Mr. Kobayashi was saying how I should start a business in New York selling jam-and-butter sandwiches and anko and make billions of dollars, and I actually knew what he was saying. *laughs* I've read that in getting accustomed to a foreign culture, there are four stages of acclamation. The final two are conscious competence and unconscious competence. The former is where you are able to fit in but you have to think about it and make an effort, and the latter, the most advanced stage, is where you're mentally unaware that you're doing anything unusual when you're living another culture and speaking another language. I think I'm hovering between those two stages, because at times I'll be consciously struggling to come up with the right words and consciously trying to do the right gestures and everything, while at other times the words just spill out one after another, properly conjugated and enunciated and used, and my actions just seem natural. It's exciting, really.

Which means it's going to be all the more sad to leave, even though I really am looking forward to it. It's really weird, and I'm not going to be able to explain it well to y'all when I get back home, so don't expect me to. Just now I tried to type a few sentences to explain my thoughts, but erased them all before I got anywhere because nothing sensible came out. I just don't know what to say about it. *laughs* And I know I'm going to disappoint some people when I get back home because I didn't do the things "normal" people do when they go to Japan, like see all the sights and have crazy experiences with the nightlife and get lost in a city and all that kind of stuff. I didn't go to Japan to visit, I came to Japan to live. And if you haven't LIVED in Japan like I have, I honestly don't think you will really understand why my experience may be different from your expectations. Not to sound stuck-up or snobbish or anything... I dunno. I guess I just have this feeling I'm going to get back home and people are going to expect me to have done all the things you're "supposed" to do in Japan. Again, I came to live MY life, not the life they advertise on television and in anime and in manga and in all the 100-yen sushi joints.

My parents took a picture of a sign at the Narita airport when they arrived that said "Welcome to Japan." That's not what it said in Japanese, though. The Japanese written there was お帰りなさい ("okaerinasai"), which isn't "Welcome to Japan." It's "Welcome home." Every time I look at that picture after returning to America, I'm probably going to tear up. I've found a home here. I'm at home with a family here, I'm at home in a community, a city, a country. I'm at home with Japan. And even after I return to my real home in America, I have a feeling one day I'll step through the gates at the Narita airport and see that sign that says "Welcome home."
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Of getting back to work

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 4/25/2005 7:55:01 AM
Whoo, back into the week again. At least Mondays are free days for me. Whoo! *laughs* Makes me think about how my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays next semester will have only one class at 9:00, and then that's it... the rest of the day is free. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be really full, but that's how I'd rather them be. I say if you do things in clocks, you spend less time walking around and your overall efficiency goes up. Whoo.

Anyway, I didn't really feel like doing much today, so I pretty much relaxed all morning, slept during the early afternoon, then went out for a walk/secondary lunch/OJ shopping spree at 4:00. It's amazing how hungry I can get just sitting around working on the computer. *has to laugh* Seriously, it's mentally exhausting sometimes, and I guess that just takes up gas. So even though I didn't do any schoolwork per say this morning, I sure got a mental workout.

Yeah. Now I'm doing some PHP coding intermingled with Japanese vocab studying. I've got three projects already looming over my head, though I can only start on one of them at this moment and one isn't due until, like, the end of the semester. Golden Week starts this Friday, though, so I'll have plenty of time to get stuff done then. Actually, it's kind of odd... Friday is off, but Monday and Friday of next week aren't. One of my Japanese classmates was like, "Whoa, that's at MOST a silver week if you ask me, certainly not gold." *laughs* I have Mondays off anyway, though, so for me it's practically a full week off. As in, it IS a full week off. W00t.

Okay, back to work. I'm feeling better.
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