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Of remembering songs randomly

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/17/2005 9:36:58 AM
Papa made me breakfast: two big tomatoes stuffed with rice, green beans, and a clam apiece (just the meat), plus a bowl of what was basically kimchi soup. That and I had to eat the breakfast in under ten minutes because I was running a little late (since I had to shave), so that was... interesting. *has to laugh* For those of you who don't know what kimchi is, it's basically to Korea what rice is to Japan and bread is to America. It's this spicy cabbage stuff, and it's really yummy. I'm seriously going to pester people about it when I get home until they let me buy/make it. It's so good and I'm going to go nuts if I can't have any after I return home. ;)

After kanji class I talked with Mr. Campbell about some more website stuff, and then we had a nice conversation about... well, just all sorts of random stuff. It was nice. ^__^ Got back around 3:30, rested and slept until about 7:00, then started on my book report. I'll probably try to get a little more done with it tonight sometime, but since it's not due until Wednesday and I have NO other homework until then (other than studying) I can't really bring myself to getting it done now (especially since Monday is 100% free).

Tomorrow I have my farewell party, which I think is going to be fun but kind of sad: it'll be the last time I see a lot of the people I've grown to like and appreciate here in Japan, possibly forever. It's funny... sometimes the word "forever" makes me very, very happy, and sometimes it makes me very, very, very sad. This is one of those sad times. Higashimurayama has a bunch of really cool people living in it, and I'm going to miss them. And Higashimurayama. And Japan. Yeah, and even Tokyo.

Have I really been here for over nine months? It's still just... ridiculously incredible.

After dinner I went over and practiced some songs I'm going to play tomorrow on the piano for people. I'm going to play my "specialty," Solfegietto, and also In The Mood (complete with the lyrics!). After I finished practicing, though, something really strange happened: I started playing the one and only Mozart song, I think one of the Sonatas, and by golly after working at it for a little while I managed to get through the entire first movement. Like, just by pulling it back out of my fingers. It was the coolest thing. If I play it tomorrow I'm going to warn people that I just remembered it yesterday and I'll likely make all sorts of mistakes, but... dang, it was awesome to just REMEMBER how to play a song I had all but forgotten. I mean, it just totally came back. And, oddly, the fact that it DID totally come back doesn't really surprise me. If I used to listen to a song or do some sort of task at one point in my life, usually all it takes is a tiny little push in the right direction and I can do it again like it was a reflex or something. Hum one or two bars of just about any video game song and I can finish it for you, complete with the percussion and other accompaniment. Remind me how some sort of code works and I can make a program for you.

Oddly, though, I can no longer adequately read sheet music. I never really could, actually. Someone needs to show it to me. Odder still, though, computer programming comes easiest when I read the boring old manual. I'm so weird.

Anyway, time to say goodbye to me. Still got ten days here, but those ten days are going to catapault themselves into history so fast.
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Of my farewell party

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/18/2005 10:45:02 AM
Whew. :)

At 3:00 today, people started showing up for my farewell party. I had asked if there was anything I could do to help beforehand, but Papa said I really didn't have to do anything. *laughs* Anyway, it started out with Mama playing the Electone, and then some people came and sang opera-style while Mama played in the background. One of the songs was Aka Tombo (Red Dragonfly), which as some may remember was the song that used to be played at 4:30 every day and is one of my favorite Japanese songs ever (not surprisingly, it's the favorite song of many Japanese, too!). Afterwards I played Solfegietto and In The Mood (complete with lyrics to the latter!), and did an encore presentation of the one and only Mozart song I know. Unfortunately, I screwed up several times in each song, especially the last one. Blah. People still appeared to enjoy it, though... and at the end I got all these flowers and pictures with people and stuff. I also got some awesome sandals (these are hardcore old-fashioned sandals here) and the two Lion King dolls the Yoshitakas have had since I came here. Wow. ^_^

For the next, oh, hour or so, I spent time talking with all the people who came. A lot of Mama's Amway friends came, as did Hayashiya-san, Onishi-san, and the Kobayashis. There were a few people I don't really remember seeing before, and as usual there were a million kids. As usual, everyone was interested in Kristin, and they actually pleaded with me to bring down my photo album of my pictures with her. It got passed around to, like, more than ten people I'd say, all grown-ups and all of whom said that Kristin and I look alike (almost like brother and sister) and that our prom pictures look like wedding pictures. *has to laugh* They all said they wanted to come to our wedding if we should get married some day, or at least have pictures of it. One person even suggested we have the wedding here in Japan. *laughs* Kristin, your fanbase here in Japan is growing by the day. *laughs again* And sorry Mom, Dad, and Niche... nobody asks about you too often. It's all about Kristin. *laughs a third time and has to get some water*

The kids and I eventually went outside and played tag for a while. It's hard to play tag with a Saki-chan on your shoulders. But then, it's easy when your legs are about as long as your opponents are tall. *laughs* When we finished with that, we came inside and I showed them some games on Apsu, including the Tetris clone I programmed several years ago and rRootage, an excellent swarm-dodging game. That kept them entertained for so long!

When it got dark, some of the kids and I went walking around the base of the next-door mountain. Sometimes I forget I'm living at the foot of such a huge geological structure! It was dark so one of the kids and I used our cellphone lights as flashlights and poked around for a while. Two of the kids were riding bikes, and at one point they both took off down the street. So what did I do? I ran after them and passed them, much to their surprise. It also really surprised two women and who appeared to be one of their daughters who were outside and chatting amidst the sound of a million frogs in the flooded rice fields. They were like, "Holy cow, I didn't even see you go by! Could you do it again?!" So I did (after a little rest), and they were quite impressed. I guess the ol' legs can still burn some serious rubber even after not having used them much for that this year! We talked for a little while after that; I had no idea who these people were, but they seemed to know me pretty well. I guess if you're an American in Higashimurayama, word travels. ;)

Just about everone here said I should return to Japan, and that if/when I do they'll keep me at their house. It might be several years down the line, but... you know, I think I might want to. Japan's on the other side of the world, but that doesn't mean I can never go there again (er, come here, rather). I'm not going to forget their offers.

And I'm not going to regret not having kids right now, either: just about every little kid there wanted to climb on me and have me pick them up and stuff. It was amusing, but tiring as heck. I don't know how moms do it. *laughs* Kids can wait until my future wife and I are nice and settled. Earlier than that and I/we'd go totally nuts. o_O;;;

And then it was just totally over. Like, poof, everyone was gone, and I was helping my host parents and the Kobayashis clean everything up. As usual, the Kobayashis are staying overnight, and as usual we had some rather in-depth discussions about culture, social issues, and differences between America and Japan. It's interesting how much you can say to people about such "deep" things if you just go ahead and say it!

The fun's not over, though: tomorrow early in the morning I'm going to do some walking party with Saki-chan's kindergarten, and at 1:30 there's a Japan Study lunch. No rest for the weary. None at all. *has to laugh*

I'm going to be very glad to come home in a little over a week, but I'm seriously going to miss Japan so much. To the people who are going to be dealing with me over summer vacation: please take it easy on me. I'm going to be so torn and it's going to hurt.

At least I know I'm going back to a place where people are waiting for me. :)
Photos: Farewell party 0 replies

Of becoming a father

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/19/2005 7:46:34 AM
Whoo, at long last, I actually have some time to relax. I think. Maybe. Not for long. D'oh. o_O; I saw Sesame Street on TV, though, so that makes everything cool. *laughs* It's just like Sesame Street back home, except it's in Japanese (Mama beat me to saying that part, amusingly). Cookie Monster's eyes seem slightly different for some reason, but maybe that's because I haven't seen him in so long.

So for Father's Day, I became a father. ^______^ *laughs* Well, not a real one. Saki-chan's kindergarten had this big mountain-climbing race thing in which all the dads went with their kindergarteners and did this race to collect stamps and be the first one back at the school. We came in 127th place out of maybe 250, so I guess we didn't do TOO badly. The mountain was kind of muddy, unfortunately, but we made it through without incident. It was funny being the only American around, and a "father" at that. *laughs again* I didn't get too many weird looks, but I'm sure several people there were quiiiiite confused.

Very soon after returning, Papa and I went to a Japan Study lunch. Not a whole lot of people showed up, but it was fun nonetheless. Papa (who brought along a yummy pumpkin cheesecake) and I talked quite a bit between ourselves as well as other people, and we all had a pretty good time. I don't think it's quite hit me yet how much I'm REALLY going to miss these people I've come to know so well here, both American and Japanese. Man.

On the way home, I stopped by Itoyokado to pick up some stuff, and then went over to the Book-Off since I decided, for once, I wanted to pick up some manga. Think of Book-Off as, like, a Borders store on steroids: you can get everything from books to movies to magazines to games, everything is ridiculously, ridiculously cheap, and you can even sell your own stuff to it for moolah. Yep. Picked up two mangas, a Dragon Quest one and one called Wild Half that just looked interesting, which brings my total collection up to *drumroll* four whole mangas, of which I've finished *raspberry* zero. However, as part of my goal to stay in shape as far as Japanese is concerned, I want to be able to read them all at some point. Maybe not fluently, but perhaps a few pages every now and then, consulting my dictionaries when need be. Should be fun.

That and they're great fun to look at. Manga artists are tops. :)

Grandma and Grandpa came over for dinner (making my total meals eaten today four), and now I'm back where I normally am: on my bed, typing up this journal. I've got all sorts of boxes and stuffs here waiting to be packed and shipped off... since I have a reeeally strong feeling I'm not going to be able to get everything home, not with all this stuff people keep giving me. *has to laugh* But that's okay. Money is good at fixing those problems. The real problem is getting rid of stuff that has been cluttering up my room and house for years and years that really just need to go. That'll be a challenge.

Actually, the real problems are AIDS, cancer, drugs and cigarettes, poverty, income inequality, subjugation of women, and carbonated beverages. But we've gotta talk relative here. ;)

Eight days. I can count 'em on my fingers. Pretty soon I'll only need one hand.

Everyone wants me to come back to Japan. One of the kids I see often even wrote me a letter with pictures and hearts and everything on it: "ぐれくまたきてね またきてくれたらあそんであげる(heart)" which essentially translates to "Greg (actually, "Gureku," but my name is so weird that's okay), come back sometime, okay? When you come back, I'll play with you. (heart)"

I think my heart would break into pieces if I never returned. I'm getting teary-eyed just thinking about it now.
Photos: Farewell lunch 1 reply

It's Official!
Posted by: badcheeso 6/20/2005 7:31:08 AM
The Countdown has begun!
Gerf, I think I can safely say that the next few days will pass by you with frightening speed. There's too much to do and say and not enough time to do it.


You'll have mixed feelings as you should. In my youth, I traveled on company business and stayed in Williamsburg Virginia for a year. When I got there I was scared sh**less because it was the first time I was away from "Home" for the first time. By the time I returned "Home" I knew that I could survive on my own. I think you've learned alot about you.

Your "American" family eagerly awaits you. We will always have our memories of you and your "Japanese" family.


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Of the last week

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/20/2005 8:05:40 AM
One week from today, I'm going to be home. Well, technically, I'll still be on the plane... but as far as the calendar goes, I'll be home. :)


Today I had one and only one goal: finish my book report for Economic Development class. And that I did. It took a lot longer than I thought it might, but there were a LOT of breaks interspersed throughout it so that's understandable. I've still got plenty of coding work to do and stuff, but I think I'm just going to have to let that wait for now... I've got to keep myself mentally sane. So far this has meant taking the time to play some video games for once (namely Tetris and rRootage), though coding isn't completely ruled out as I'm still kind of pumped about a few things; maybe tomorrow I'll get back into them. I really hope I'll be able to finish all that stuff over the summer... and, actually, now that I think about it, it might not be that hard to do. If I put in a few hours a day, I think I can get both of my website projects done. Whether or not I'll be able to set aside a few hours a day is still up for debate, but we'll find out soon, eh?

Funny, I'm listening to this song called "Dreams Come True" (a remix of Mega Man X for the SNES), and Star Salzman just sang, "Remember it's not the end of the world when you lose all of your continues: you can start all over again." Sometimes it's easy to forget that. ^__^

Down to the last week. Let's roll.
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Of the last Tuesday

Location: Yoshitaka residence - dining room 6/21/2005 8:36:29 AM
Last Tuesday in Japan.

My finals start tomorrow: I've got my Phonology final followed by three-some hours of break, which will be spent studying for my Economic Development final (well, the first half of it, anyway). Then on Thursday, I've got my final Japanese grammar class, followed by my Microeconomics final, followed by another short break before the second half of my Economic Development final. After that, I'll be doing some tutoring, and then on Friday I have my final kanji class, a few hours of break, and then my final tutoring session. Everything's wrapping up.

Speaking of wrapping up, I've got to do a lot of wrapping up on the weekend: cancel my cell phone, residency, bank account. Hope I can do all that without much hassle... that's planned for Frieday. That and I still have some boxes I need to ship home on Saturday. Er, wait... they're closed on Saturday. Muggle. Well, maybe the one in Higashimurayama is open on the weekends... it's possible. Just don't know if it is. Will ask.

Anyway, I've started pulling things out of my drawers and stuff, and now my room is a weapons testing zone. Getting things ready to be packed (and packing other things); I'm even moving gigabytes of stuff around on Apsu and the Yoshitaka's computer so I can get everything home just fine. Yay for Firewire. Mmmm, the fastness.

Um, so, yeah. I know everything will turn out just fine in the end. Might have to pay some extra money for shipping here and there, but that's okay. I'm just in my super-mellow mood again, I guess. The end is so close and dang, I just want to get it over with now. There are still some things I haven't done in Japan, but, you know, I can always come back.

And I think I will. Some day.
1 reply

Come Back!
Posted by: badcheeso 6/22/2005 6:46:43 AM

You have a lot of people here, holding their breath, waiting for you to come home.
You can always go back to Japan for a visit but better yet get a job and have the company pay and send you back.

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Of the last Wednesday

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/22/2005 9:25:20 AM
Today was a nice day: got two of my four finals out of the way, and I think I did pretty well on both of them! Tomorrow's going to be nutso, but after tomorrow I'll pretty much be done with everything. Sweeeeet.

I'm kind of hyped up now because today I bought something I always wanted to snag: Dragon Quest IV for the PlayStation. I won't be able to play it at home since it's a Japanese game, but that didn't stop me from getting it to play on Apsu. I'm still in the process of trying to find out which video and audio settings I need exactly (I'm close to "as close to perfect as I can get on an emulator" but not QUITE there yet), so playing the game has kind of been more frustrating than it should be (especially because I've been messing with it instead of studying for my exams tomorrow..!), but the fact of the matter is I now own the PS remake of my favorite NES game of all time. And that makes me happy. ^__^ It'll be some superb Japanese practice/review for me. :)

Five days. Bum bum bum.

I'm on a roll with stuff. I can feel it. There's just a huge bump coming up: coming home. But when I land, I think I'll be able to continue rolling. *good mood... but still has to pack somehow...*
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5 days - bum - bum- bum
Posted by: badcheeso 6/23/2005 9:43:44 AM
Keep up the good work and good feelings and you'll do fine.

There will be lots of tuggings at your heart, I know because you're part of me and I have those feelings too.

Keep a positive mental attitude and you'll get through this.

We're waiting for you so we can eat mexican. Have you tried to tell the Yoshitaka's about mexican food? Wonder what they would think?

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Of the last Thursday

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/23/2005 10:44:31 AM
Hey, done with my finals. :)

Japanese class was great today: we watched the hour and a half of "Shall We Dance?" which is such a funny movie, even in Japanese. So great. Then we all ate some sushi Hoshino-sensei made for us and played some vocabulary-review Bingo. Fun, fun. It's odd to think that I've been with Hoshino-sensei all year... and now I very well may never see her again. It's sad. *sighs* So many people I'm just not going to see anymore. Saying goodbye is something I really, really don't enjoy doing. But I do it somehow. And life goes on. As it always does.

Microeconomics was... well, okay, I suppose. Actually, now that I think about it, I very likely really botched up a good portion of the test. Oh well. I think my chances of doing at least as well as most of the class are pretty high, anyway. The Economic Development exam went pretty well, too. Glad everything's over.

Kenta, one of the guys I've known since the fall, gave me a little bear keychain for a parting gift. What a thoughtful thing to do. ^__^ Kenta's a good guy: we sat next to each other a lot in Economic Development class, and afterwards we'd always talk about the lecture or about other random things. He's coming over to study in New York next year... I hope I can see him again. Good guy. Thanks for being my friend here, Kenta. :)

Dinner and tutoring at the Campbells again, fun as usual. Some guy wanted to get into the apartment, though, and none of us could understand what he wanted. Something with the kitchen..? We think he was a solicitor. *shrugs* Oh well. If it was something important, they'd get a notice in English about it.

Um, what else. Package came from home today. Lots of gifts for the folks here. :) It also gives me another box to use if I need to, though actually I think I'm fine on boxes. I'd better be, anyway. o_O; And speaking of boxes, I have to seriously pack stuff up now. If I'm going to be shipping stuff on Saturday, then I've gotta be ready. Packing is going to... well, it's going to be interesting. Got a lot of it to do, and my time is running out. I don't think anything's planned for Sunday (since Saturday is going to be totally full with my graduation ceremony and probably something with the Onishis), and, well, Monday I return home.

Four days. Four days from now I will have been on the plane for nine hours, meaning my trip will be, uh, a bit more than halfway done. Whoo.
Photos: Last Japanese class with Hoshino-sensei 0 replies

Of the last Friday

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/24/2005 11:12:21 AM
I kind of had to wait for a little while today before I really realized I'm done. I actually still don't know if I've really realized it yet. Wow.

Our final kanji class was nice; we did a normal lesson, but near the end we chatted about stuff as a class and the two kanji "champions" got some prizes. There were two prizes: one for the person who scored the most points overall, and one for the person who scored the most points on average. I had predicted Morgan would win at least one of them, and she did: the average score prize. I won the total score overall prize. ^__^ We got these little hanging thingies... I forget the actual name, but they're cute. :) Then we all went to eat at the school cafeteria. I hadn't eaten there in a long time, and I had forgotten that the food there is actually decent. It was fun.

After I was "free," I went to try and close my bank account at the bank in Waseda, but they said I needed to do it at the Higashimurayama bank. It's funny how things work at Japanese institutions: you fill out a bajillion forms and stuff, and only AFTER all that is done they tell you whether or not you can do what it is you want to do. That's just how they work here, I guess. After that I ran back to Takadanobaba station where the nearby AU shop was and ended my cell phone service. No more e-mail, phone calls, or downloading games and stuff for me anymore. Aw darn. That's okay, though. I think I got what I needed out of my service (though I probably paid much more than I really needed to... ah well), and I get to keep the phone. Yay!

Slept and worked on some website projects a bit after that, then went over to the Campbell's house for my last tutoring session with Scott. Had fun, as usual. Now, I was thinking I'd be able to come back home in time for dinner, but the Campbells invited me to stay and stay I did... and talked, talked, and talked! Holy cow, we all talked about so much stuff it was crazy. I can't even remember everything we talked about, but I know Scott and I discussed complex novel concepts and stuff. Lars came over for some dinner, too, and we all watched some Japanese, Spanish, and English videos we made in our youth (or at least the past... Lars's movie was made three weeeks ago). Wow, what a great time. I'm so glad to have met the Campbells and become friends with them. They're great folks, and I'm going to miss 'em.

And now I get to do some more packing and then wake up nice and early so I can go to the closing ceremony tomorrow. I originally wasn't going to wear my suit, but every guy I talked to said he was going to wear one... so I guess I'll just wear mine, as long as it still fits. I'm going to totally die from the heat and I know it, but might as well just do it for my "last hurrah." Gotta be seated there at 9:50, meaning I'm going to head out at about 8:40 or so. That'll be enough time to get there even if I pass out from the heat for a few minutes. ;)

I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm in a hurry right now. Hurry for what? Dunno. But things are going by so quickly, and I need to catch up with them lest they fly right by.
Photos: Last Japanese class with Senda-sensei 0 replies

Of graduating on the last Saturday

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/25/2005 9:37:08 AM
Two days from now, I'll be on a Boeing 777 and will be about halfway done with my flight back to America. Wow.

Today was the graduation/closing ceremony for us foreign students. Yesterday I had told people I wasn't going to wear anything super-fancy, mainly because of the heat, but being the freak I am I decided I'd wear my nice clothes and blazer anyway. I poked my head outside and it was HOT... and Mama said it was going to be hot today... and on the way to the ceremony I heard some girls saying that today was quite hot. Dang. *has to laugh* But I got all tied and blazered up and everything, and for the first time took the bus to Waseda (partly because it was so dang hot and partly because I would have been a few minutes late otherwise). Megan came on the bus, too, which was nice; it's always reassuring to see a familiar and friendly face when you do something for the first time (despite this being almost my last day of being in Japan!). The ceremony itself was really nice. I got to see all the friends I made here one last time, heard some okay speeches, got a nice diploma (it's nicer than my high school diploma!), and had a nice reception afterwards. Sometimes it takes a ceremony like that to get you to finally believe, "You know, things are wrapping up. I'm... like... done. And I'm going home. As in, home home."

When I returned home (my Japanese home), I biked myself to the post office to ship off my last two pieces of luggage. Bikes here have baskets, and I sure put them to good use. If people back in America would realize that it's really not that bad to ride bikes with baskets on them, I bet traffic congestion in big cities and small towns alike would decrease by, like, 30-50%. It's so dang useful to have a basket on your bike... it becomes your car, a car you can drive just about anywhere. After having done some more packing, I now realize I really didn't need to send my books home... I actually have enough room to pack them in my carry-on bags. But, you know, I might as well just send them, since that's ten pounds less I'll have to lug around with me on Monday. Plus, since they were just books I got a special rate: 2700 yen for 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of books, which really isn't too bad when you consider my 6-some kilogram box that I also shipped home cost 5100 yen. Yikes. Oh, and the guy who handled all the stuff for me used an abacus to do the math. It was so awesome... I've never seen anyone use an abacus professionally before, much less in a post office. It makes me want to learn how to use an abacus effectively now, just like I want to learn Morse Code and how to play the piano again. ;)

On my way home, I decided to bike around Higashimurayama for the last time. I stopped at a little park I had seen a few times that had this cool little shrine on an island in the middle of a pond; you had to cross two bridges to get to it. There was also this big weeping willow tree, too, which for some reason looked like it was taken out of some fantasy novel or something. Very nice... reminded me of the weeping willows we used to have at home (well, actually, one of them is still growing all over the place despite having been cut down many years ago), which reminded me of America, which reminded me of how I won't be seeing Higashimurayama again for what could be a very, very, very long time... and that made me a little sad.

For the past few weeks there have been all these posters up at the Higashimurayama train station advertising the flowers at Kitayama-kouen ("North Mountain Park," the place the Thunderlord Carnival was held at, and a place I've been to several times before), so I decided to stop there before going back home as well. It looked just like in the pictures: very, very pretty. Kitayama-kouen (which I accidentally called Hachikoku-kouen, "Eight-Country Park," since Hachikoku-douri is the road I walk every day to and from the train station) is such an amazing place, and I'm going to want to go back every time I see the pictures I took of it. In fact, I'm going to want to go back to everywhere I've taken pictures of. Gosh... Higashimurayama is just such an amazing, beautiful place. I'm so glad I wound up here. Michiyo-san, thank you so much for putting me here. The city is wonderful, the populace is wonderful, the Yoshitakas are wonderful... you did a wonderful job and made me one very happy person.

All the walking and biking in the burning heat must have burst some safety valves in my system, though, because all day I've been drinking lots and lots of OJ. I'd drink something else, but the milk is whole (and thus not all that thirst-quenching... more filling than anything), the water isn't too cold (plus I can't drink straight water), all the sports drinks taste like grapefruit (and, while it's yummy, I didn't feel like that flavor at the time), and anything else you can buy either has caffiene, alcohol, or fizz in it. So, OJ it is. No problem there. :)

The Kobayashis are over again; I wonder if they're going to stay to see me off on Monday? I suppose we'll see. Tomorrow I'm having my last meeting with Hayashiya-san, and then I'll be seeing the Onishis for lunch for the last time. Gotta say goodbye for the last time eventually.

See, this is why the Internet is wonderful. Even though I've been away from home for 3/4 of a year, a lot of folks back there still know what's going on because I can inform them through this journal. I can also talk to my family, friends, and Kristin via instant messenging, which is often nicer than being on the phone because you can hold many (many) conversations at once, plus do other things in the background. Plus, all my friends I've made here in Japan can still communicate with me even though I'll be leaving, and that's something I'll really look forward to. It's so cool to be able to read and write and speak and understand a foreign language, because it opens up another world of friends, entertainment, jobs, enlightenment, and overall opportunities.

For anyone who is thinking of studying abroad, DO IT. Do the paperwork and registration and everything and get yourself to a foreign country and live there for a year. You're not going to be guaranteed the best time of your life. It could be the worst time of your life. But whatever it is for you, it is one thing for everyone: a way to grow in ways you probably never thought of. This growth process is unique to everyone so I can't describe it, but I assure you: you will grow. But it's not a one-way thing: you have to work at it, too. You have to have an open mind and a willingness to grow. If you come with a foul attitude and keep that foul attitude throughout the year, of course you're not going to get much out of your experience. And I'm sorry for those people, because foul attitudes will not only get you nowhere, but they'll also ruin an experience like this which is something you'll likely never, ever experience again.

And because it's such a one-shot deal most of the time, it's the perfect opportunity to push yourself in a new direction. You may just push yourself in the direction you're already going, or maybe you'll push yourself onto the right track. If you think you've been pushed off the right path onto a wrong one, then ask yourself this: was your original path the right one in the first place, and in any case, who is to say there can't be two right paths?

Er, going off again. Sorry. Kind of free-association there... I'm not sure if that's going to make much sense when I go back and re-read it. Oh well. That's what journals are for.

Oh, and by the way, I hope nobody is really expecting a big, long "reflection" to my stay in Japan after I've returned. I might write an "epilogue" at some point or another, maybe in a week or maybe in ten years, but I don't think I'm going to write some big essay about it or anything (unless I'm required to for a scholarship or something like that). As I mentioned in a previous entry (or several of them, for that matter), you simply cannot accurately "sum up" something like this in so few words. Let's see... as of HERE, Microsoft Word tells me I've written 172,590 words in this journal. And, you know what? I'd need ten times that much to wordify some of the feelings I've felt here. I know it's good to be able to summarize things, but not only am I bad at condensing thoughts (since I think in spherical parallel processes anyway), but... I dunno. Something like this just doesn't compress well in my brain. Maybe I could hire someone to do it for me or something... but then I'd just say, "No no no, you left out all the important parts." So maybe I'll have to condense it some day. I'll figure something out.

So yeah, anyway, it's time for me to stick a few more things in my bags, take a bath, and probably do a few more things. I'm bad at ending things, so... I'm going to end this entry right here. :)
Photos: Graduation and last shots of Higashimurayama 1 reply

Very Well......
Posted by: badcheeso 6/25/2005 9:41:13 PM
Very nice journal entry



0 replies

Of saying goodbye

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 6/26/2005 9:31:55 AM
This was my last full day in Japan. With the exception of closing my bank account, turning my foreign resident card into the office, and getting myself on the plane, my stay in Japan is over. At least, for now it is.

This morning I said goodbye to the Kobayashis for the last time. They're such nice people. Mr. Kobayashi once told me to work for world peace, and he said it again before they left for home. I'll do my best, Kobayashi-san. Then I went to meet Hayashiya-san and Osaku for the last time. We had a nice talk, as usual; it was nice to be with them both one last time. Osaku gave me one of his favorite CDs and some traditional paper dolls his mother made, and Hayashiya-san was going to give me a really cool Japanese lantern from Asakusa, but he realized it wouldn't fit in my luggage. *has to laugh* I'll miss our interesting conversations. Sayonara, Mr. and Mrs. Kobayashi, Hayashiya-san and Osaku.

Right after that I hopped over to see the Onishis one last time. I gave them some presents from my parents, and then we went off to eat lunch at a sushi restaurant. This wasn't just some "order sushi and eat" place... no, it's kind of hard to do that with sushi. This was 回転寿司 ("kaiten zushi"): you sit down and sushi goes by on a conveyor belt, and when one you like goes by you snag it. You pay by the plate, and each plate has about two pieces of sushi on it (or something else, like a melon or a basket of fries). There were three main types: 100, 150, and 250 yen plates... and by golly, by the time we were done we had gotten a ton of 250 yen plates. *laughs* Keisuke can sure put away a lot of sushi... but then, I looked at my own pile of plates and realized I could, too. ;) Then we went to the batting cages for a few rounds (I actually hit almost every single 85-kmph ball thrown at me!), then hit up a clothes store so Kazuki could get a new tanktop, and then we chilled around their house for a little while (actually, more like roasted... it's HOT). Leaving them was perhaps the hardest thing I had to do all day... the Onishis are such wonderful people, and they were like my second host family to me. I am going to miss them severely. I had only been away from them for five seconds when a rock formed in my throat that almost choked me to death. It was all I could do to walk home with a straight face. That's just what you do in Japan.

Sayonara, Onishi family.

Came home, pet Nana for a little while (sayonara, Nana), and slept. People I had grown close to and even loved like family were dropping from my life at a frightening pace, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Well, I know they're not really gone, since I'll be able to contact them through e-mail and I totally want to come back to visit sometime. But still, be with people for nine months and you grow pretty darn close to them. I remember how close I was to my friends at Essex, which was just one short week (was it really that short??). This is... something totally different.

Mama and Papa made me katsudon and gyoza for dinner, per my request (which I had made a week or so ago), and the grandparents came to eat, as did Natsuko, Shota (Natsuko's boyfriend), Soichiro, and Saki-chan. We were all one family... and it was nice to be with them all. I actually felt the rock coming back again as we did our last kanpai (and I can feel it again just thinking about it now), but somehow I managed to keep it down... maybe because I had washed it down with the shochu. We had some nice talks, and then a lot of gift-exchanging at the end. Everyone liked their presents, and I got a sake set from Shota (Dad, we're obligated to share some sake together with that set on my 21st birthday now ;) ), a Doraemon manga from Soichiro, and my chopsticks, mug, and chawan (rice bowl) from the family (though Soichiro had bought me the chopsticks and mug... in fact, those were my very first gifts upon coming to Japan, aside from the warm welcome and kindness my family showed me).

What nice folks. I don't know how many I'll see tomorrow. Sayonara Grandma and Grandpa. Sayonara Saki-chan, Natsuko, Shota, and Soichiro. And Sayonara Mama and Papa. Thanks for everything. I can't even think of a way to express my gratitude for all that you've done for me this past year.

This will be my last entry people will be seeing before I leave for home. I'm sorry I can't think of anything nice to end this all with, but... I'm just torn right now. I now have so many more homes: not just Japan, but also Tokyo and Ibaraki and Takadanobaba and Higashimurayama and the Onishi's house and the Yoshitaka's house, plus more I may have forgotten. I've made so many Japanese and American friends by my standards, which are very likely laughable to most people but are pretty impressive to me. I've become part Japanese, and I've become more aware of... well, of everything.

What can I possibly say that won't be extraordinarily tacky? I'm horrible at ending things. I never want them to end.

But then... they don't have to. Nothing has to end if you don't want it to. It might end in ways you'd normally expect it to... but nowhere is it written that what you love needs to end in your mind. I'm going to be living this for the rest of my life. So what has really ended?


*bows* Sayonara, Japan.
Photos: My last full day in Japan 0 replies

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