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May 2012

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May. 3rd, 2012

Tokyo, etc

So... It's my golden week break and I took off from Kurashiki to Tokyo. Tokyo is such a place to visit for me and not a place I could ever consider living in. But anyway, got here and met up with my friend Jo who's teaching in the far north of Japan. We spent the first day at the Tokyo Rainbow parade. Not bad, but not nearly as well organized or wonderfully ostentatious as Osaka's. Then we spent the evening in Nichome drinking (and gettin delicious delicious Turkish food) I spent most of my time hanging out with these lovely older gay men from Brazil and Italy. They were so nice and it was one of their birthdays so I bought him a Guiness and he hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. Cute.
Next day Jo and I headed to Kawaguchiko, very near Mt Fuji. Long day, so once we got there we mostly just walked around the incredibly beautiful town and took a ride to the top of Mt. Kachi Kachi so that we could get a better - beautiful - view of Mt Fuji. And well we did because the rest of the time we were there it was so cloudy. We didn't see it again.
Day two in Kawaguchiko was hiking through Aokigahara - an aged forest grown on lava rock. It's so amazing. Surreal almost. We got to see the bat cave, ice cave, and wind cave. (those last two were friggin freeeeezing) 6 hours of hiking and I feel fairly accomplished, but my legs kind of hate me.
After that we headed back towards Tokyo to meet up with some friends and go to Kamakura... Most of which is lost in a rainy haze to my memory because there wasn't really anything i wanted to see and it was miserably rainy the whole day. I have to imagine on a sunny day though that some of those shrines and temples are amazingly beautiful.
Now... Bumming around Tokyo with friends. I have a concert tomorrow in Shibuya that I'm very much looking forward to. And tonight's gonna be a nerd girl night. Pizza and Supernatural.

Mt. Fuji from the train.

The entrance to the bat caves!

Freakishly adorable cardboard guide on how NOT to die in the ice caves. I want to be friends with whoever made this.

Ice caves!!

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Apr. 11th, 2012

O.... Kay...

So I was struck by a desire today that kind of surprised me. I have NEVER thought seriously about this. But I realized today that the most realistic way to get to some of the places I want to go is to broaden my skill set.
I really want to travel. A lot. And I want to live abroad again, elsewhere. I've been looking at foreign work websites lately and they always list the professions they are currently seeking, all of which tend to be specialties I have no hand in. I don't regret going to college and there isn't really any way - with the way my mind works - that it might have turned out some other way... So I don't regret the way that all ended up. I just wish at the end of it hat my degree amounted to more. So what I've been thinking about all of the sudden and with a strange seriousness, is grad school. Or just more education of some kind. I was thinking of something like graphic design or advertising. Not something i've ever really thought about, but honestly... It's a more long-term employable area of skills than my minimal Japanese and art history... Beloved studies though they were. I figure it's at the very least worth seriously thinking about while I'm here and trying to map out the future as much as I can. I know I could do some graphic design study at community college. And GVSU has a grad advertising program... Just... Trying to figure out what to do with myself. I need to acquire a more diverse and solidified skill set than what I currently have. I know I can do a lot of things, but I don't have backing and paper to prove to potential employers that I know how to do things. That's what I've got to work on.
In other news, raining in buckets here and someone stole my umbrella...
In other other news - good bye Rick Santorum. The spring circus that was the GOP race has ended. Bring on the main event! Romney v Obama. Let the storm of attacks begin. (((o(*゚▽゚*)o)))

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Apr. 8th, 2012

"Drift"

I figured out another reason I could never live in Japan long term. I actually enjoy listening to people talk history and politics. Japanese people are as cynical about politics as any other nation, but on such a smaller scale than I'm used to. My host patents (god I miss them) are the ONLY people I've ever heard here talk about politics - explaining to me the various reasons why the current mayor of Osaka is a thug. Their interest is not a widespread thing. I miss having those conversations with people. My co-workers have virtually no interest in politics or current events and seem to get most of that info from the BBC ... Via me at lunchtime.
Another reason to look forward to returning to a country with multiple 24 hour news channels and friends with similar interest. (though I will be leaving one here in the cold of Aomori.)
Oh, and I was sitting alone in a donut shop reading "Drift" by Rachel Maddow, which I'm loving - thank you Vincent. That's what brought on the thought and title, if you were wondering.

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Apr. 6th, 2012

Spring can suck it

I'm being beaten down like I've never known by allergies here in Japan. And I lost my house key out posting for work the other day... So now I'll have to shill out to have the locks changed before I leave.
I can't wait for autumn.
(although to be fair, the first week of may should be pretty awesome...)

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Apr. 2nd, 2012

7 things meme

Wasting a bit of time... Just trying not to be in the apartment and sitting staring at my computer. I'm gettin lunch, doing a little bit of studying , reading, and procrastinating on grocery shopping.

Coffee
Music
My camera
Stationary
Gore Vidal
Alice in Wonderland
News

I love coffee. I could drink it all day and there are days that I do. Not so much here in Japan... I start my day with powdered coffee... Which is awful, but I don't have room in my kitchen for a coffee maker. Sad. But I get by.

Oh music... I find riding my bike to the right son to be the best thin I can do over here. A sunny day, a bike ride, and Penguin Cafe Orchestra's Perpetuum Mobile... Heaven. Kaizer's Orchestra, Pendulum, the National, Movitz... Love music.

My camera is really special to me. I haven't used it nearly enough lately. I don't really have the time and have been filling the void with an Instagram addiction... But I'll get back in it. But my camera is a special thing to me, one of the few physical possessions I have that it would hurt me to lose.

Omg... So I love snail mail. It's really one of my favorite forms of communication. I don't think that's even close to a widespread sentiment, but here in Japan it's amazing how cheap silly stationary is. And I'm scrambling it up.

Gore Vidal is still one of my favorite authors... He has a lot to do with who I am today. His writing started to make me see things differently and helped me to get out of my shell and think more for myself when I was younger and though he'll never know it, I feel in his debt for that.

Anyone who knows me even a little knows I love Alice in Wonderland. And I really think it's the strangeness and uniqueness of the characters. That, and yet they are mailable through time. You can see the cast in your own way (as so many directors and illustrators have proven.) i don't love every iteration, but I love that they are forever Carroll's characters... And just as much the readers.

News... I'm a junkie, for better or for worse. I'm not as bad as some. I'm not obsessed, but it is a daily thing. I really just want to know what's going on in the world generally. And what's going on now fuels my growing desire to learn more about history. Not sure if this is a good or not... But it just is.

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Mar. 20th, 2012

福岡県 Fukuoka

Whoo! So I'm on my way back from visiting my friend in Fukuoka. He lives in one of the most backwoodsy places I've ever seen in Japan - a place called Ukiha. It's a two connection, hour-long trip from the major city I actually arrived it. Spent so much time and cash on train rides this weekend. But I was cool. Found out my boots are absolute awful for long walking... I really need to get a better pair of walking shoes.
But the time... Hung out with Jamie. Got to hear about JET and see where Jamie works. It could just be Jamie's situation and his overall optimism, but JET seems so much better than my job. He gets to use Japanese. He gets to know and interact with his kids. He literally knows. Like all of them, where they live and heir families. I'm not really allowed to get to interact with my kids and their families outside the lobby... Jamie and I ran into the parent of one of his kids on the train. His name is Toma and he speaks a little English too.. He was so nice. He invited us to his house to meet his family, who were all great and super nice. Four adorable children. Biggest, most modern house I've ever seen in Japan - a converted brick 3 story apartment building. So their loaded. Turns out it's because he owns a handful of local upscale restaurant franchises. And he invited us over so his wife could drive us to one where we got dinner and drinks on the house. Omg. What a welcome to a new town. Made me really happy I'd brought more than one souvenir from my area so I had something to give as a thank you. It was so nice.
Next day we took the long train ride to the northern most part of Fukuoka to go to Marine World Aquarium. Easily one of the lamest aquariums I've ever been to with the absolute SADDEST looking penguins I have ever seen in my life. But they had Jellyfish, so I felt it was all worthwhile. They had a tank of... The sign said something to he effect of "handicapped" dolphins. Like they'd lost a fin or part of their nose in accidents or something. I couldn't read a the sigh, but you could see the scarring on the mouth of the mos friendly one. It was kind of sad in principle, but they were playful and super cute. Went to get the ramen that Fukuoka is famous for after that. Smells awful. Tastes pretty damn good. Spent the night watching Dragonball Evolution with the Team Fourstar Rifftracks mp3. Love it.
Today... Was chill. Got lunch at this cute local restaurant just named after the town and now I'm headed back to Hakata to catch the Shinkansen back to Kurashiki where I'm hoping my bike has not been take away to the impound. Whoo! Now pictures!

Jamie - standing in front of the station nearest to his apartment... So old school they don't have a ticket machine. You have to buy your ticket from the old woman at the candy shop he's walking towards.

Turtles!

Jellies!!!!!!!!

Jamie and Kitty-chan... And a dolphin.

Ukiha - where we had lunch.

Oh, and Elin! Jamie says "hi and nice things". He says hi to you too Mariah!

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Feb. 27th, 2012

Holy update lag batman.

So it's been a while since I've updated. Haven't had that much to say... My life here has been pretty monotonous. I have to say though, I'm really happy to put February in the rear view mirror. I get to visit a friend in March and see a part of the country I never have before. I bought tickets to a post rock music night in May that I'm incredibly excited for. One of my favorite Japanese artists will be there. And I'm kind of going through concert withdrawals so that will be timely. It's in Shibuya and I have two friends who live sort of in the area so it will also be great to see them. Then I won't have another break until august. (not quite a break but there will be follow up training in June...)
Nothin terribly interesting happening. I've become addicted to Supernatual. I just finished season 3 which ends amazingly for having been a season affected by the writer's strike.
I'm an instagram junkie now too, which I both love and hate... But it's so much more convenient than lugging around my Canon. Almost bought a new lens for that today - a Holga. But I talked myself out o it for now because it's a low light lens and I don't get out of work before it gets dark and wouldn't get much use out of it at the moment.
Saw my first movie in theaters since coming here - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. It wasn't any kind of improvement on the original. The half assed commitment made to using Swedish text and accents irritated the hell out of me. But for a girl who doesn't usually care that much for Daniel Craig, I thought he played a very good and convincing Mikael.
Everyone in my office is being phased out and replaced. I don't love having to get used to a completely new office, but whatcha gonna do? We've met one of the new teachers already and she's pretty nice. We're getting more girl and we need one more teacher but apparently we're having trouble finding anyone to fill that position. I've done a couple interviews myself, but all of them have been with girls who - honestly with the level of English they display in the interview, I don't know what would make them think they could teach English to another person... That bad. So we'll probably be a short staffed school for most of April. Whoo!
Other than that... Been using the hell out of Project Gutenberg lately. I'm currently reading Dracula. One of those books I should have read by now but never gotten around to. I'm really liking it too, but it makes me realize that i've never seen a movie that has portrayed the count according to Stoker's original description... But it's an interesting story.
And... That's really all that's up with me. Later!

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Jan. 20th, 2012

(no subject)

So... I'm really starting to get a grip on this job... Which means I can think about it more in terms of how I feel and not just trying to get a handle on things...
And I don't think I like it all that much. This isn't to say I hate it and that it's all awful. It isn't. But the things I don't like are fairly ore slant and beyond my power to control. I have some kids who just have insufferable attitudes or temper problems. My 40-50 minutes a week with them isn't exactly a sphere of influence. Also... I really like all of my coworkers... Which makes it really hard when one of the higher ups in the company comes by once or twice a week. She's... Well she's part I the Japanese business hierarchy and I think she's a bit up on that power... I've been in the back room twice when she's been yelling at my manager. I could understand one time too and it was the most petty, stupid thing. I really don't like her or the effect she has on my Japanese coworkers. The Japanese business system... I really don't care for it. I don't know why I thought I would find it any other way... And it's not even quite as much in my face at amity as it might be elsewhere...
But like I said... It's not all bad. I had my favorite students today. We played a game about drawing faces and they are the funniest kids to play this game with.

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Jan. 16th, 2012

Homesickness

Hmm. Title says it all in a nutshell. I'm really surprised at myself in Japan this time. Last time I was in Japan I really don't remember being homesick at all. But this time... It's different. Lately I've been getting more used to the job and so I have more time to think about other things. In that time I've been feeling homesick. I'm kind of missing the snow. I'm missing people. I'm missing certain places. And I have this really strange feeling that I'm missing out on something by being here. I don't know why... I think I might feel this a little less if I were in Osaka. I miss that place. I only really know people through work here and so my social circle is pretty small at the moment. That doesn't help. I feel a little isolated. I also think there was some part of me expecting this to be something like my study abroad experience. But it's a job and quite different. I really need to figure out some way to change this somehow or it's going to be a pretty lame 2012...
In a somewhat similar vein, I find myself thinking a lot about the future and how completely uncertain I feel about it. I know I shouldn't devote too much time and worry to that... Being so far removed from it. But I'm not yet a year out of college and I think I'm still in that mindset where I have a pretty good idea of what the. Ext year would hold. It was easy to line up... But at the moment everything past October is this huge question mark and I'm not used to that feeling. It makes me a little uncomfortable. I know what I would like that future to look like, but it's kinda.blurred and uncertain...
And that's what I've been doing the last few weeks... Grossly over thinking things far in the future and pretty far out of my control at he moment.
Hope everyone else is doing fine. I'm jealous of you Canadians and Michiganders and your snow. It's just cold and grey here...

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Jan. 10th, 2012

(no subject)

So... Updates. I thought i'd updated with a end of the year survey like the one Susan does every year. They're usually kind of fun... But I guess it's okay that it didn't save for whatever reason. It was a little boring this year because my answers were a little uniform and uninteresting. Oh well.
Updates... The holidays were pretty nice. Christmas was a cake and karaoke day with my coworker and Joanna visiting from Aomori. Five hours of karaoke - the first hour being nothing but Christmas standards. Fun fun fun.
New years was pretty great. I met up with one of the guys from my November training group at Starbucks and we chatted for a while before meeting up with two of my coworkers for more karaoke followed by a full night of walking the streets, waiting to see the first sunrise of the year. We went to a local temple At 3 in the morning to make a wish/prayer for the year. Lots of people were there that early in the morning. It was fun. We were wasting some time so we hung out in one of the pagodas and I played some Super Mash Bros and we danced to it. Got a few stares... Which just made it funnier.
On Jan 2 I got to go back to Osaka to meet up with my host family. Oh I was so great. It took me a few minutes to readjust to the Osaka train system again, but it came back to me. The station near my host family's house changed a bit, but my host mother came to meet me. And from there it was all perfect memory. Same walk from the station, same host mother, same host father, same house... Great. I got to see my host brother - who is now married to who was his girlfriend last time I was here. They have a one year old son named Esora who is adorable. I also got to see my youngest host sister who is now in college. She's also about to have here coming of age celebration so I got to see her try on her kimono. Looks like such a trial to put on, but she looked great. I also got to talk very briefly to my second oldest host sister - the one I'm probably closest to - on the phone. Wished her a happy new year and comment on how adorable her kids are. (she had a baby last time I was here and now has two little girls who I got to see in her postcard to her parents. They're both freakishly cute little girls with huge dark eyes. So cute.) I really hope I get to see her again before I return to the states. She's a really great person. I can likely make it work because she lives in the same town as two of the people I did training with.
I really want to live in Osaka again... I like Kurashiki, but having gone back to Osaka even for one long weekend makes me homesick for it. I would love to move back there for a little bit. I don't know of it'll happen... But it's something to home for I guess. I've been overthinking the possibilities of the future lately though. Everything beyond this contract with Amity is a giant question mark and I can't help trying to clear it up some... But at he moment all I've got is imagination. So...
That's what I've got for now. Hope all is well where you are!

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