Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Desperate Plea


As some of you may know, two months ago I packed it all up and moved to lovely Kudamatsu, Japan. As soon as I started to settle in here, the company I worked for went bankrupt. Having no money or options I've decided to stay put and squat in my apartment until I am forcibly removed.

So, here I am. Broke, no internet (this post is being brought to you by a telepathic Jesus, he owed me one), no television, no newspapers, no books.

I have a wall. That I stare at.

And all the shitty comics I draw.

Dont get me wrong, some days I do have great adventures here. Like visiting a shrine with a strange man I met at a yatai, trying to get a DVD rental card, going to dozens and dozens of 'Goodbye' parties, watching little men prune trees, practicing touching, getting punched in the arm by a bartender, photographing worm fights. Im suprised Ive had so much fun on so little yen.

So in conclusion, what I am asking is... will someone, for the love of god, send me a book!?!?

It's a book-a-thon! I am your local librarian, collecting for the needy. Comic books, mini-comics, exciting fiction, non-fiction, VCR manuals, anything that has to do with space, black holes, the historical archeology of New England, art history, contemporary art history, any kind of history, biographies, books about Mexico (or how to get there from here), old textbooks... I'll reading fucking Mein Kempf if you send it. My mind is getting all gooey and I need some thoughts that dont have to do with me to start pumping through it.

Send me your favorite book, one that blew your mind and changed your life. And come February 10th I'll send it back. Or I'll send you someone else's.

(Nothing recommended by Oprah, religious, or about Japan, please.)

Thank you. I love you.

And do it quick! I move in about a month.

We're in love now. Cant you tell?

(email me for my address)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Peculiar Places

I can only describe my current situation as bizarre.

I woke up at 3PM on a community futon in an abandoned apartment. Now I’m in the living room trying desperately to catch unsecured wireless internet signals.
These last few weeks without work and without cash have been strange. There isn’t a lot to do around here and even less when youre broke. So we’ve been trying to make our own fun. My roommate and I have decided to go through the entire OC television series on DVD. And Ive been drawing. Not as much as Id like, but I did finish a page last night. I feel a little “blocked” or I maybe I just don’t know where to start with my comics. I keep debating things like style, medium, size, and content in my head. But I always return to my original plan. I think I need to just keep on truckin’.

And then there’s the stuff we do for fun... which I wont write on here.

So Frangah and I went to Hiroshima on Friday. We were seeing Katie off. She went back to England. It was sad. And it had been a late night on Thursday so we were all kind of “tired.” It was an interesting train ride.

The first stop on the Hiroshima tour was Starbucks. God I miss that place. I miss real coffee.

Then we went to Subway for lunch. But the real point of the trip wasnt just to indulge myself in the nostalgias of home, we were looking for Hiroshima Castle. It took a while. Mostly because Frangah had to stop every ten minutes to put his head down on the bridge. At one point we sat on a bench in the rain for an hour watching a crane that was watching a fish it killed float backwards down the river. Or something.

But we found the castle! It was really nice this time of year. We sat in front of it for a couple hours. We even thought about going inside, as the heaps of tourists who wandered by were. Eventually we got up to check out the entrance fee. 360¥! Too expensive. Frangah did have the idea of getting our speed up and running past the cashier...

Then we went to a foreign grocery store, where I bought some tortilla chips, pickles, and icing sugar. And after that we headed back to Starbucks, where I spent as much as the entry fee to the castle and then some.

Around 6PM we took the local train to Iwakuni. It was a rough ride and the cars were packed. But we had a plan. Take the 780¥ train to Iwakuni, go to Mike’s Tex-Mex restaurant for a few hours, and then take the 8PM train back to Kudamatsu. Because the Kuddah station is unattended after 9PM, so we bought tickets to the next stop after Iwakuni, and saved about 1,000¥. It’s OK, we’re gaijin, and we don’t understand the fancy train system.

So last night Frangah and I went to Antonio’s yatai. It’s pretty much guaranteed that we’ll go there and get free food and free beer. Last night was a lot more exciting than usual, though. Apparently Antonio’s drunk “dad” was paying for our drinks the first few hours. Then around 2AM a really drunk Japanese guy sat next to me. We started talking a little and Frangah and I both ended up with an extra 10,000¥ on the walk home. He felt bad we hadn’t been paid. And he was really drunk.

Other than all that, Jon is coming to visit December 7th, I move into my new apartment January 3rd, everyone I know here is moving away... and I learned how to make a really delicious chilli.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm Hungry

I need ideas for food. Im sick of eating rice and pasta and pizza everday.

The restrictions are:
+Must be vegetarian
+I have no oven, blender, food processor, microwave
+I do have a toaster oven and stove
+Has to use simple ingredients that I have a chance of recognizing without having to read a package


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sunshine and Lollipops

I am encouraging you not to read the following. Especially children.

Now that I have a plan and kind of know what Im doing I have time to get really really pissed. I have no money and no answers. The Nova teachers still havent been paid two month's salaries. I used all the money I had to come to this fucking country. Now Im in a huge hole that'll take years to climb out of. Not to mention the government here doesnt give a shit about all the unemployed gaijins. There are some rumours that if I go to this city and find some sort of window marked "Nova" I may get a form that'll tell me how long I have to wait to get paid--but obviously, no one at the magic window speaks English. This is a full-on rant right now. No paragraph breaks. I was interrupted from watching some godawful video next door with the news, via text message, that there is a meeting a few cities over tomorrow, at 10am, where I can resign? Or get the paperwork to resign? Because if I dont resign I have to interview again? I DONT EVEN KNOW! These fucking broken English text messages being passed down through dozens of people make no sense. Not to mention, I dont even have a cell phone! Im hearing all this second and third hand! Just pay me my goddamn money! And Im not going to resign!? I dont even qualify for unemployment! I just biked here and Im spending all the money I have to figure out what's going on. And Im fucking hungry and sick of alternating between rice and pasta every night! I feel like Im going to explode. I am so pissed. I want to rip this computer from the wall and scream at these people around me. But they wouldnt ever understand a fucking word Im saying!! My shoes have huge holes in them. You can see my socks. I cant afford new ones and if I could it'd take too long to try and buy them. AND I HAVE NOTHING TO READ and was desperate enough to start the fucking Da Vinci Code. AND maybe I got a job that starts in two months, but the Korean winter camp hasnt called me back, and I dont even know how Id afford to get there. Today someone made a phone call to Nova personnel in Osaka to ask about our apartments and no one has a fucking clue when we have to leave. There advice was wait for a court order. SPEAKING OF COURT ORDERS--my dentist bill continues to go unpaid, which will result in another summons... as well as my student loan, cell phone, and soon my website. Read this for a laugh. Im never getting paid. Fuck I fucking hate this fucking place. And, as a result of this rant my mom is going to be pissed at me and make me feel bad. AHHHH! I cant believe how bad I got screwed coming here. The life I used to have and hated is gone, and been replaced by a new life I hate. I just feel like it'd be OK if there was someone I could punch. Or light on fire.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Maybe OK

I got a job offer! The position starts January 22. It's a good school around where I'm living now. Pay is good, hours are short, company isnt bankrupt... everything I've been dreaming of. I have also had a phone interview for an ESL winter camp in Korea, to fill the time (and wallet) until the other job starts.

We'll see, we'll see. I'm totally expecting something to go terribly wrong so I wont let myself get too happy yet. But, yesterday after the interview I celebrated by buying myself this ¥300 kawaii tiny fake cookie set.

So if I dont think about how I havent paid any of my bills this month (and wont be for the next two) and how I could possibly be kicked out of my apartment at any moment-- I am totally pumped.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I've Lost My Mind

I wasnt going to come to the internet cafe today. It's expensive and shared computers creep me out. But, as I was sitting at home alone, knitting and singing Mariah Carey's greatest hits, I thought the walk would do me good.
Since my unemployment began I've been spending my days sleeping, taking long baths, drawing comics (that I want to put on the internet, but swore I wouldnt), and meeting random Japanese people.
Today I was picked up by this woman known as "Sister Fuji." Yesterday my roommate received an encrypted message from Fuji on her cell phone that read: "Janet I pick up 15:00 Japanese lesson. Just joke. OK, let me know." Obviously I wrote back "yes!" and today I woke up just in time to have some coffee and begin our adventure.
She drove me to Kasado Island, where I saw a huge plastic dinosaur. Then she gave me a big bag of food. She was sorry I didnt eat meat, because the bag had a lot of meat in it. We talked about finding me a job, how many siblings I have, what I think of Japan, what I am looking for in a boyfriend (I answered: smart, likes computers or comics, older. She told me her 40 year old brother in Kyoto would be perfect). You know, basic English conversation stuff. Then she bought me dinner. We went to Joyfull, a family restaurant mashed with a izakaya. I got pasta with eggplant and tomato sauce. Halfway in I realized it included ham. Everything here has fucking meat in it.
Ive decided I may try to learn how to write in Japanese. Because I think I'll have more success with that than speaking it.
So my day was weird. I wish I could explain it better, but I dont have to money to sit here telling you all how I'm a complete novelty in Kudamatsu, and people just want to talk to me and take my picture in front on dinosaurs.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Miyajima Island

Best shot of the day: a deer wanders in front of the O-Torii gate.

I had a job interview today. I'd say it went well, but there would be a lot to figure out with moving and key money and stuff. I would be teaching really young children--glorified babysitting. It is in Yamaguchi City. I have some more interviews coming up next week so maybe I wont die. Maybe. This month will be strange. Everyone's going home, and my roommate is going to Tokyo for a week.
Yesterday some former students took me and some other teacher's to Miyajima Island for some sightseeing. It was a beautiful place and I felt kind of sad that I couldnt sit and paint there for the day. But I'll try to go back. We had a good time, despite me feeling terribly sick (keep that in mind when looking at the photos of me). On the way home we stopped in Iwakuni, too. I'm glad I got to see some of Japan, and for so cheap!
Everyone here is being extremley nice and helpful to us out-of-work gaijin. The interview I had today was setup by a Japanese woman who I know through a friend. She's been trying to get everyone work and has even found people who would put us up if need be.
I never would've imagined I could do what I've been doing here... going on interviews, biking to an internet cafe, traveling with strangers.
And I had a really bizarre moment today at The Mall, after the interview. I'm standing there in my suit (which is a skirt) and heels, trying desperately to find a Mirah Carey CD for me and my roommate to go halves on. Where did Jeannette go?

We spend some time petting [and being chased by] the deer.

Biggest Rice Spoon in the World!

Typical Miyajima scene.

Inside the Itsukushima Shrine

An Australian, Canadian, American, Brit, and Japanese

The former students teach us how to pet the wooden man.

Preparing the Okonomiyaki

I was very happy to get vegetalian Okonomiyaki for lunch.

Me being pensive...

Kintai Bridge, Iwakuni

(stray kitten that fell in love with me)

(photo op on the drive home)

See more photos on my Flickr page.