Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do you hate dentists?

I finally did it. After four years of paying into the Japanese National Health Insurance program, I did something that I should have done a long time ago. I got a wisdom tooth removed.

I'd like to say, "I got my wisdom teeth removed," but this is Japan. For reasons I can only speculate about, they do it one at a time.

I may have mentioned before how I went to a dentist to get a cleaning and they cleaned my top teeth then asked me to return the next week to do the bottom. I never went back.

Luckily this new dentist I go to speaks English pretty well and is not afraid to clean all my teeth at once. I got a few fillings from him this summer (six fillings means at least four visits) but kept putting off getting my wisdom teeth pulled.

My dentist knows I hate him. Not in a personal way. Maybe I would get along with him if I met him at a bar or something.

During my tooth-pulling visit he asked me if I'd studied any more Japanese. I answered, "hai."

He asked me what I learned. I had actually just come from a lesson, but I'm way to shy to speak Japanese to Japanese people, so I said, "haisha" [dentist].

Of course he acted totally impressed then asked me, "歯医者がきらいですか?" [Do you hate dentists?].

"Hai," I answered.

Then I opened my mouth and clenched my hands together and let him do his thing. Took less than a minute.

He asked me if I wanted to take my tooth home. I said no. He told me I should because it's a souvenir. So he put it in a little plastic tooth case and in my hand. So now I have that.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hiroshima SketchCrawl

A SketchCrawl is a drawing marathon around the world where people plan meet-ups in their cities. I've always wanted to do it and finally live in a place big enough where I could find other drawers to come with me.

We had a good time, starting at the Peace Memorial Museum (in the Peace Park) and working our way to the A-bomb dome (stopping at a sidewalk cafe along the way for pizza and fresh squeezed orange juice). It was super hot and sunny, but if we followed the trees' shade the heat wasnt oppressive.

A-bomb dome
A-bomb Dome

I felt a little rusty but managed to squeeze out 2 drawings I like. Instead of using a sketchbook I went with a clipboard with different colored papers. In the last few years I've really started hating sketchbooks, wire or bound. The clipboard gives you a nice fresh piece of paper with no distracting edges and no guilt about how many you fill.

Peace Memorial

Thanks to Glenn and Chika for coming! Hope we can do it again soon.


Next SketchCrawl date is August 21st. Visit the Facebook page for details or send me an email.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer In Hiroshima

Rooftop beer gardens, night runs, non-stop fanning, yukata, homemade sangria, coffee Frappucinos, cold showers, sweaty bike rides, watermelon popsiclessticky bars.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The New Apartment

Dear Blog,

I am no longer "Alone in Kudamatsu." Havent been for a few years, actually. I just moved with Motto from Tokuyama to Hiroshima. Yup, that Hiroshima, from your history book. But the name "Alone in Kudamatsu" stays. "Living in Sin in Hiroshima" is too wordy.

I love it here in the big city so far. Ive never lived in a real urban place with a population of over a million. Just today Motto and I were walking back from the grocery store and took a moment to notice how huge the high rise we past was. Like a couple of country bumpkins we stood there, noses pointed up, counting the stories. 33. So tall. We were impressed.

Motto: Can you imagine if you were building that?
Me: What do you mean?
Motto: Standing up there working.
Me: It'd be so windy.
Motto: Would you live on the top floor?
Me: Probably not, I'd think about jumping too much.

This apartment is a lot bigger than the one back in Tokuyama. We got a bedroom, a tatami room, a kitchen, a genkan, and a bathroom with a mirror and sink! I was so excited about that. The last apartment had a sink and tiny shaving mirror in the shower and that was it.

Strange noises:
  • 10 p.m. church bells. Church, really?
  • Upstairs neighbor plays loud 90's Alt rock on Saturday nights.
  • Nightly slapping sound. Like someone is quickly whacking a fat man's back. Duration: approx 20 mins.
Good points:
  • Living downtown and can get a burrito, Starbucks decaf iced coffee, falafel and Subway sandwich in one afternoon. I dont, but I could.
  • Small American-themed cafe downstairs in my building. Serves coffee, cocktails, and Japanese food. The owner has big glasses and a motorbike and we say "konnichiwa" when we see each other.
  • Okonomiyaki restaurant around the corner has a friendly cook who makes me vegetarian food.
  • A young vegetable vendor guy stands downstairs with some cheap random veggies some days. Old ladies walk by and buy single cucumbers and slip them in their purses. They all seem to know each other pretty well.
  • Squeezed 20 guests inside for my housewarming party.
  • Someone keeps their wifi unlocked and it's super fast.
Bad Points:
  • Raspberry-chan's new room is on one of our balconies. Motto got sick of being attacked by her and we cant let her chew up the floors and wooden moulding anymore. So she's outside like some sort of animal.
I bought some new furniture and now I finally own a bed. But too be honest I miss the futons.

Motto got that insane bookshelf (pictured left) at a refurbish shop. I told him if he wants to keep his million DVDs Antonio gave him he'd better find something to keep them in.

I tried to take pictures of the place. But a video tour will probably work better. I'll do that someday. Or you could come visit.

I should make a Drunk Vegetarian Guide to Hiroshima to accompany my Fukuoka one.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Moving Time

Originally uploaded by JimmyJaneSays

I'm moving to Hiroshima next Tuesday! I swear, no more delays. I've been bringing my camera to work to take pictures of my students doing amazing things like floating, so I wont forget the little demons. I'll miss them!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Racism in Japan

I have a fever right now, so I apologize if any of this sounds delirious. More delirious than usual. Can something sound delirious? Anyway.

This blog is about my experience as an American in Japan, so I thought I ought to write about this event even though most stories you're getting out of this country have a different feel right now. On Monday Motto [Japanese] and I [American] went looking for apartments in Hiroshima. It's a weird system here. You have to find a real estate company and you tell them what you're looking for, and then they try to sell you something they want to get rid of.

We looked at a bunch of places that were either too far from downtown, old, dirty, expensive, had the bathroom sink in the kitchen, or had the laundry machine in the kitchen. You know, things I'm not ready to settle for.

We found a place that was cheap for the size (3DK) and downtown. In our tired state we decided to take it despite the non-refundable 340,000¥ key money [$4,000 USD deposit]. Motto signed the contract and wrote my name down as his co-inhabiting fiance (he tried to hide the "fiance" part from me, when pressed said it looks better than writing "laundry folder).

racism in Japan

Begin Rant.
So today we got a call from the real estate agent saying the landlord doesnt want to rent to us because I'm a foreigner. Apparently he had Filipino tenants before and they ruined the apartment.

Wow. They may know how to queue in line but this is a backwards country. Can you imagine an American refusing to rent to a Japanese? Or refusing to rent to any non-American? That stuff just doesnt go on in most of the civilized world, yet in Japan the real estate agent didnt even seem too shocked. If I were him I'd be like, You call them and say that, bigot.

You hear stories like this all the time in Japan. I was used to the constant stares, being asked if I "want to pa-ti" buy gross men, having to use a credit card to get a cell phone, and people doing black face on TV but this is a new hurtle I wasnt ready for.

It makes me more and more upset when I think about the fact I've been here 3 years, absorbing the culture and trying not to always be the nail that sticks out.

My first American thoughts about this were lawyer! newspaper! we should own that building!

And as far as the fear of me destroying the apartment with Motto, I thought that's why we give him the $4,000. It goes to cleaning the apartment and replacing all the tatami floors when we leave.

This shouldnt be acceptable behavior in Hiroshima, the city of peace, or anywhere. I assure you no Americans living there were Tweeting #PearlHarbor last week.

If anyone is itching to defend Japanese xenophobia and racism in the comments section have fun.

You can reTweet this link to let the word out that things like this are still being allowed to happen in 2011.
End rant.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm OK, thanks for askin.

I was asleep when the earthquake hit. I didnt check the internet or TV before work so when I saw I had three missed calls on my cell after work I panicked. No one ever calls me, especially from overseas. It was my grandma seeing if I was OK. She called again and filled me in on what happened. Then slowly as my east coast friends started to wake up (noon their time) and my family in Texas heard what happened (FOX news must have picked up the story) more and more tweets and Facebook messages came in. I'm not trying to call out other members of my family about the fact that only my grandma in Boston picked up the phone and paid long distance fees to check that I was alive. *ahem*

Anyway, I let everyone know I was fine, and even posted the previous blog post before I found out how bad the earthquake and subsiquent tsunamis had been.

Then the western 24 hour news media really sunk it's teeth into the story. A man was found 9 miles out to sea, a nuclear power plant had an explosion, the cast of Twilight had to evacuate Vancouver.

I could hardly go online without seeing some misinformed person on the other side of the world saying, "Cancel your travel plans to Japan, it's not safe over there!" Jon is coming to visit me next month and someone wrote to him that Narita airport is a mess and he should rethink his vacation.

Other people worry about nuclear fallout traveling to California. Someone on Facebook said that Japan refused to accept help from the US (FALSE). #PEARLHARBOR started trending on Twitter.

My dad is not convinced I'm safe as he sees the press cover the devistation more and more.

Ok, folks. Japan is big. Some plant workers have gotten radiation poisoning. That's really terrible. I think it was 10 to 100 workers. The nuclear power plant was designed to withstand earthquakes and has systems in place to deal with a meltdown. Even if the thing blew up I'd be fine in Yamaguchi. You'd be fine in your home across the ocean. The poor people of Fukushima would have to deal with some shit, though.

A lot of people are missing. They dont even know how many thousands died. It's devastating to the country and will take a long time to bounce back from.

No one should cancel travel plans to Japan. The last thing this country needs is to lose tourism dollars right before cherry blossom season.

EDIT: As I wrote this a 6.0 earthquake hit Shizukoa, south-west of Tokyo. The news anchors have put their helmets back on.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Love, Dad

So my dad sent me an email that read "I'm getting operated on tomorrow It probably will be on you tube if you want to watch it." I found out it was only a operation on his thumb, nothing life threatening. This is his update for me:
This surgery isn't going so well no food or drink from midnight and be at the hospital at 1120 now they expect me to sit in a chair for 2 hours and wait. I haven't even seen anybody yet. I just told the lady at the desk " they better be saving somebody's life if you expect me to sit and wait for hours." I'm not sure they know who I am and what I'm capable of. Everybody should be glad I'm alone esp if somebody says something stupid and who knows what I might say.

The best part:
So in closing if anything happens to me there are 4 jars of change in the cabinet next to my refrigerator make sure everybody gets one. Don't worry nothing will happen during the surgery. It's the before the surgery that could be a problem.

Then a follow up:
Everything went fine. I guess I asked one of the nurses if she was hitting on me and then I fired everybody .They said it was just going under talk but I was serious.

The weirdest part of this for me is his improved grammar! It's like he thought these may be his last words to me so he hit spell check and everything.

Then a bonus email after today's earthquake in Japan:
Are you ok earthquakes craters in highways tidal waves? Japan is looking scary stay safe. Let me know if we need to send Will Smith and Bruce Willis to save everybody.

Dont you wish you were reading his blog instead of mine?

Monday, March 7, 2011 is Live!

Online Japanese Lessons LearnNihongo
Finally finished a project I've been working on for a while, It's a website for Motto's online Japanese lesson business. I've been studying CSS feverishly for months trying to make a site that looks professional and can serve as a portfolio piece to get me more jobs as a web designer.

The site has come a long way from this:

learn Japanese

You can tweet this link to help spread the word about the site, and follow @learnnihongo for a new Japanese vocab word everyday.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

anyone who knows me...

knows i hate being in a car. especially when it's snowing. i also hate not having access to a bathroom. and traveling really stresses me out.
so imagine my delight when this morning i took the bus to Okayama and found there is no toilet on the 4 hour ride. at one point i almost just got off at a random spot i had to pee so bad.
and then the snow. a sudden storm hit my route, closing the highway and sending my bus up tiny snowy mountain roads. anyone who has ever driven with me knows...
i sat white knuckled, planning my escape in japanese.
"ok, i'll tap the driver and say, TOILET PLEASE."
"no, i'll piss my pants and spend the weekend in the leggings i packed."
"maybe i should tweet my final words."
"there's no reason i couldnt highjack a bus."

so, halfway there and we should have been there already, the driver stops at a rest stop and i run with 3 other women to the toilet for a joyous pee, only to return to the bus to have the driver hand me a bottle of tea while apologizing for the delay.
yeah, im not that crazy, no one else has opened their bottle either.
---written on my phone while staring down the side of a mountain.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Online Art Show. Enjoy.

My Flickr Pro account expires in 6 days. Dont think I'll renew it, because I dont do the kind of work needed to get people to look at my photos there (like comment on other people's pictures). With that in mind, and inspired by sleepytako, I'm using a highly technical algorithm to post my top 10 photographs of 2010.

Flickr Friends


Tea Room

Hanabi 1/15

Curious Camel

And I actually got my camera (Canon EOS DSLR 40D) exactly a year ago next Wednesday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Complimentary Spam

What is the point of the fake comments by anonymous on this Sketchblog post? No links, no ads. Very mysterious. There must be some invisible embedded code. Anyone know?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Eating Bugs

Motto and I brought some canned bugs back from Korea, to share with friends<3<3