Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happiest Post Ever

I bought a really great pen. It's a Copic 0.05, with replaceable tips! No longer will I have to throw out my super-expensive pen after each use, or use a complicated marking method to determine how far gone it is. I love Japan! And just as soon as I plunked down the 600 yen (pen + refills) my creative impulse has put me back on the path of pen and ink, old school nibs and all. Feels like college again. It's been over a week and I havent used the Copic pen yet.

Also, I started my new job! I am employed again! And you know what this does to me, fills me with all sorts of bitter hatred of people, my life, time, money. It's the only thing that's ever truly inspired me.

The best part of my new job is I have less than six teaching hours a day. But they're split up in such a way to make it feel like 12. I do have a lot more freedom with the curriculum at this school and that keeps things interesting. Especially when I spend a night watching rented Grey's Anatomy DVDs instead of making up lesson plans. They only have up to season two here, so I have no idea if Meredith choses McDreamy or Chris O'Donnely and what happens to Dr. Burke after that gunshot injures the nerves in his hand. And I will ban you from my blog if you spoil it. Mostly because I dont want people who watch Grey's Anatomy here, anyway.

In other happy news, Liz is coming in March. No accompanying sarcastic comment.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ueno Market

Another clip from Tokyo. Yum, bright red octopus.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My Newest Apartment

We'll start with the cricket.

He came out of nowhere one night, jumping in front of me, while I was watching a particularly creepy episode of Lost. Im pretty sure it was just as John didnt press the button or something. I screamed profanities and ran around in circles, then finally got myself together enough to trap him in a bowl. I left him there next to the television for over a week.
A few days ago while I was vacuuming I figured he was dead, so I lifted up the bowl. He wasnt.
Back to the bowl for you!
I contemplated just vacuuming him up, but then I realized that all my recent bad luck may be due to my imprisonment of the creepy little thing, so I let him go. How vegetarian of me.
Then, today as I was walking up the stairs I saw him sitting where I'd released him. He doesnt move. I think he's dead.
I'm screwed.

Here's my front door and washing machine. Doing chores is even more fun when you have to face the elements (and neighbors).

Walk in the front door, take off your shoes. Then notice the shower door as you enter. Hopefully I never have a house guest that I dont want to see me nude (and vice versa). The to the left is the toilet room. The glossy picture inbetween them is one of Fredrick's prints. And there's the edge of my fridge on the right (so you can orient yourself).
The box on the top right is where they control the hidden cameras.

Here's the window that overlooks my washing machine. I put the shelf and curtain up. It's nice to sit in the bath and here your neighbors coming and going. No peeking, dudes!

And the tub, the most important part of any home. Mine is square and metal. I sit indian-style in it and try not to lean my back on the cold steel before the whole tub fills.

And one of the most fun rooms in the house, the toilet room!

Mine has this nice paneling, so when I close the door and take a seat sometimes I imagine I am in a lemon-scented forest. Note the sink. That happens to be the only bathroom sink in the apartment.
Now hold on. Think about that.
I dont mind washing my hands there, but what about brushing my teeth? And everything else you should only do in your bathroom sink? I dont know. So Ive stopped doing it all.
Oh, and a mirror! Where do I give myself a look-over? You'll see.

My kitchen. All the cabinets are either too high or too low. Like me.

Dining area. Note the trash heap. I have to make a post explaining the crazy sorting system here. It may help me figure out when I should take the unburnables out.

If you look out my window you can see the school I'll be working at. Yup, right up on the fifth floor. They'll be getting a naked wave every morning (when I get out of the shower and walk through the kitchen to my bedroom).

Here's my living room, with a sliver of the dining room on the left. You can see my bookshelf, ramen flag, and all the pieces of my comic book.

My bookshelf, filled with books from all over. Again, thank you to everyone who sent me something! It's one of the best things that's happened to me since Ive been here.

My sittin' pillow on the rug I bought (on sale) at the Loft in Tokyo.

View of my living room with a peek into the bedroom on the right.

My desk. Where no magic happens. If On My Desk could see me now!

What you've all been waiting for... my bedroom. You can see where I dry my clothes when I dont want my neighbors and coworkers to see them. Actually, there's more sunlight there than off my balcony. And you can see my sad little futon and a sleeping Owl Skunk.

This is the only closet in the place. So it holds my clothes, cleaning products, art supplies, my suitcases, stuff I stole from the old apartment, etc.
You can see the futon you'll be sleeping on folded on the bottom left.

Finally, at the foot of my futon, the place where I put myself together. I got the mirror at the 100 Yen shop, but it was 1,260 yen. I cant get the price stickers off. That really bugs me. Actually, I only tried once.
The green bag is filled with pharmaceuticals.

So that's my new place. I'm living alone and I anxiously await your arrival. Make sure to bring a board game or something to do. The internet connection is a bit spotty. This post has taken over five hours (Im not kidding). But it's not like I had anything better to do today.

Did I mention the dead bat that was in here, too?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Facts of Life

Ok, I guess it's getting confusing to some readers (more like lurkers, stalkers and family members). Or maybe it's your first time here (you probably Googled Gaijin Showers and found my blog by mistake). Anyway, here's what's going on with me and the fiasco-that-is-Japan, presently:

I am sitting at a table I stole from my last apartment, writing this offline while waiting for the unsecured wireless internet signal to bless me with it's presence once more tonight. I cant stop thinking about the fact I only have 272 MB of free disc space left on my hard-drive. A balloon in the right hand corner keeps reminding me. This just leads to thoughts about buying an external hard-drive, which leads to thoughts about just buying a new laptop, which leads to thoughts about paying for internet service so I dont have to hold my laptop up with one hand at a 30 degree angle while facing northeast to get a connection. But then I remember my credit card bill. And how I havent worked in three months.

I came here in September, wide-eyed and ready to love Japan and all it's backwards kookiness. Some things helped me steer off that path; in mid-October company I worked for collapsed and filed for bankruptcy. Also, the food sucks.

It was all fun and games for a while (in between panic attacks and chocolate binges) and being unemployed and not paid for a month's work was OK because there was a big group of us going through it... having tea parties, OC marathons, and countless nomihodi. Of course, one-by-one parents stopped sending money and people started going home. Being the newest of the bunch I was determined to stick it out and have my year in Japan. I would not going back home to retail.

I went job hunting. My internet service at home was cut off, due to not paying the bill. So whenever I had ¥472 to burn I'd bike twenty minutes to the nearest internet cafe and send off my resume and headshot. The job market was flooded with thousands of gaijin newly looking for work. But by early November I'd received a few offers. One of them was at a school in Korea. I didnt want to uproot myself again so I chose an English school in Tokuyama. It's right next door to Kudamatsu and where I spent most of my time anyway.

There was one problem though, the position didnt begin until January 22. I had a brilliant plan of working at a Korean winter camp for the two months in between, but even after a phone interview I was unable to work it out.

So, to make a long story longer, I spent a few months squatting in my apartment (no one paid the rent, no one made me leave). The days went by slowly. I spent them reading books, taking baths, cooking, meeting people, drinking and trying to get private English lessons. Poverty and stress took the fun out of unemployment, but there were some adventures.

Jon came in early December and saved me from total despair (temporarily), he left for Australia, came back, and we met up in Tokyo. After a week I went back to Kudamatsu, packed up my stuff and moved into my new apartment in Tokuyama. I have two weeks before my new job begins. I have two months before I receive my first full paycheck. And I never got the money owed to me from the first school I worked for.

Right now I'm stuck in Japan, financially. I refuse to leave before paying off the debt accumulated by coming here.

I live in Japan out of spite.

(Christmas party photo)

New Years Videos

See photos on my Flickr and Facebook.

Kaiten-zushi in Giza

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Years

This unsecured wireless signal I have is kind of spotty. So this isn’t the post I wish it could be. I moved into a new apartment in Tokuyama a few days ago. So far everything here is pretty good. There was an earthquake this afternoon (I survived), there was a dead bat and a live scary cricket (now living or dead under a bowl in the living room), and there’s no bathroom sink (very inconvenient) but other than that it’s an excellent place.

Ueno Market

For New Years I headed to Tokyo for seven days, to meet up with Jon and Simone. We spent New Years night at Zojoji Temple next to Tokyo Tower. At midnight 3,000 released balloons with wishes tied to them. We didn’t have any balloons (the line was too long). It was packed there and fun nonetheless. I felt really lucky to be there, watching the monks do their bizarre ceremony, eating noodles and drinking beer, stuck in a sea of people.

After Tokyo I got back and spent the next day moving into my new place. And then the following day I went to Hiroshima to meet up with Jon again. He spent the in-between day in Fukuoka. You can never see the A-dome too many times… It was nice, though. That city is so close, I should really go more often (they have a Starbucks).