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Sunday, December 7th, 2008
6:16 pm - Foiled Again
According to Livejournal, I haven't posted an entry in 21 weeks, and that's just inexcusable.

Today I got up at the crack of arse to miss a test I was unprepared to take.

I try to console myself with the fact that the result would have been the same even if I had taken the test, but I still kick myself for wasting half a day and several thousand yen.

I have a Japanese teacher and adoptive mother who graciously provided me with timetables and directions to the right city, but that was the easy part. The part with which no mortal could have helped me was getting to the exact location of the test site.

I met some white folks on the next-to-last train, but still adhered to my original plan of riding all the way to the closest station and walking from there. That is, until I and the two Chinese women who went all the way were told by the station man that the test site was too far to walk; we took a taxi together, and reached the building with then minutes to spare.

Unfortunately, for the specific level of test I was to take, it was the wrong building, the wrong university, and the wrong side of town.

Apparently there are two universities with the same name, and on the way up the escalator I learned I was at the wrong one from a flustered white man who had just come from the place I should have been. I said goodbye to my Chinese companions and bolted back down the hill, to get directions to the other university from the gatekeeper. It was supposedly just beyond an unscalable stone wall across the street, and with aching legs and burning lungs I raced for two long blocks to find an opening in the wall.

When I got inside, the campus was deserted. It was probably that way beforehand. I covered the campus looking for some indication of a test site, and realized I should have gone jogging more often.

Eventually I found an information booth, and the man showed me an unintelligible map which I did my best to follow. Somehow, I found the correct cluster of buildings, and with the last of my strength I reached the test site exactly fifteen minutes late--precisely at the cutoff time to be allowed entrance.

In the end, this day has produced nothing but the first three of my New Year's Resolutions:

1. Be prepared to pass the test in July.
2. Get up in the middle of the night so that I'll have at least an hour to spare in case I go to the wrong test site again.
3. Go jogging more often.

current mood: pissed off

(talk to me, babes)

Friday, July 11th, 2008
10:57 pm - I Love Japan
I actually do mean that without sarcasm, but I had a confusing experience while teaching tonight, and I need to remind myself of that fact. On Friday nights I teach a crash course for people who are about to go abroad, and since they expressed a fair degree of fluency at first I refrained from using Japanese for the most part; they stumbled on a section tonight and I was forced to explain it in Japanese. This drew guffaws from half the class, and upon asking I was told it wasn't because I made any mistakes in what I said. It was just funny. It's funny that I can speak Japanese after having lived here for five years. The humor content is roughly equivalent to that in seeing someone use a racket to play tennis. A riot.

But so as not to dwell on that, I'll type about the good things about living here.

People are rarely confrontational here, and they keep to themselves for the most part. They rarely intrude on my personal space, and when I invite Japanese people into my home they don't do rude things like open my refrigerator without asking. And they never invite themselves inside, which is more than I can say for some Americans in the neighborhood.

I never have to worry about whether or not my bicycle will be there when I return to it. I'm almost never threatened with physical violence by anyone. This is in stark contrast to the U.S., where people are generally hostile, volatile, paranoid, and belligerent. And fat.

I dropped my wallet in a train station once, and only realized it when I was halfway to my destination. After I talked to the station agent, he telephoned the man at the station where I dropped my wallet, and the man drove to where I was to give it to me. A year later I lost a fountain pen on a train, and when I noticed it missing I simply went to the main station, gave a description of the pen and told the agent what train it was and what time I was on it. He returned with my pen from the lost-and-found a moment later.

In the U.S. I would never have gotten either back, and I would never own a bicycle long enough for it to break.

Religious fundamentalists are almost nonexistent, and as far as I can tell everyone is aware that evolution is no longer open to doubt. Japanese morals are based on a combination of conformity and empathy that is enforced and reinforced starting in nursery school, so that people grow up to abhor stealing and hurting people, not because they're afraid of burning in hell but because they know it's wrong and wouldn't want it done to them.

Members of a community work together to keep it clean and socially intact, and there is a very strong social network to care for children and the aged. Medical care is affordable, and there are almost no poor people.

Now, all that is not to say that the Japanese are perfect. Far from it. Aside from the annoyances of linguistic snobbery, they seem to find it exceedingly difficult to relate on a normal human level to people who appear ethnically different. Their education system practically obliterates creativity and critical thinking while valuing conformity and unquestioning obedience above all other qualities. A good many of them believe ridiculous things without any evidence simply because they are shown on television. Their political system is as crooked as a kite string in a ceiling fan, and the system has guaranteed its perpetuity by making it taboo to discuss politics. Their plumbing systems seem to have been built about a thousand years before the discovery of water. And also their dentistry is not so good.

I'll give an example. About a year ago I went to have my teeth cleaned and was told that, though my mouth was "beautiful" (not a strong compliment by comparison when a good percentage of the populace has teeth like Shane MacGowan's), I had metallic fillings that placed me at risk for Minamata Disease (which is actually mercury poisoning, but was miscalled a disease when a pollution-based outbreak of toxicity warped the bodies and minds of a bevy of the denizens of Minamata in disease-like fashion). I agreed to have my metallic fillings replaced. Big mistake.

Dental assistants performed the cleaning, computer-generated analysis and diagnosis of the state of my mouth, and until the day of the operation I didn't actually meet the dentist, an aged an bespectacled australopithecus who always hides half of his face behind a surgical mask for the very good reason that he otherwise might be recognized.

First they shot Novocain into my gums and pried out the old fillings, and then they replaced it with what I misunderstood to be the fillings. When I got home and the numbness wore off, I discovered that the australopithecus had glued all my molars together, apparently on the belief that I am duck, and I couldn't floss. My girlfriend at the time told me I'd eventually get used to it. I decided that wouldn't do, and I went back to the clinic to ask, and I was told that that was a temporary composite that would only fill up the gaps in my molars until I went back for the real fillings. Why he didn't put the real fillings in right then I have no idea.

Finally, I went back to get the real fillings. One might think the actual dentist would be the one to perform such a crucial procedure, but one would be mistaken in this case. In their infinite wisdom, the dental assistants first decided to forego the Novocain for the actual operation. When it became clear that prying the putty out was more than uncomfortable, they stuck a needle into my gums, but it hadn't yet taken effect when they put the fillings in. It felt like molten metal was being injected directly onto my exposed nerve endings, which is probably what was happening. I think I had just enough consciousness to respond in the negative to periodic questions as to whether the pain was yet beginning to subside. The head assistant was able to say only 「どうしょう」a phrase that translates roughly as "Uh-oh."

At some point I returned to earth from the realm of excruciating agony, and was charged a modest fee and released. That side of my mouth never hurt when I had my old fillings, but it hurt for a year after they were replaced. I never went back to the dentist, and I'm doing my utmost to avoid cavities.

To that end, I'm going to go eat a salad now. At any rate, Japanese vegetables are better than those in American supermarkets.

(talk to me, babes)

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008
5:47 pm - Finally, Another Entry
I had a truly shocking experience at work last week and regret that I haven't been compelled to put it down here until now. I did, however, make a note of it on paper before the true unreality of it let me chalk it up to a delusion. I swear I have not ingested any hallucinogens in the recent past, but a fifty-year-old salesman with whom I've been on friendly terms asked me for a date. As some background, this man is rather unpopular in the office because he's a bit odd, though cheerful, and lacks decorum. He had asked me before for prints of some pictures of the two of us together, taken at the last event, but I thought nothing of it, and it certainly never occurred to me that he was out-of-the-closet gay, much less that he would proposition me in the office.

He asked me if I were busy on Sunday, which I took to mean he was about to ask me something about work, and in response to my enquiry as to why he became giggly and bashful; as he approached my desk said some things of which the only words I caught were deeto and watashi to, as he pointed to his nose like a coy schoolgirl. It was really too much. I didn't know how to respond, so I just sort of gave him a blank look until he walked away. He walked through the door still smiling and said something else that escaped me, and then he left. Afterwards I said to myself, "Self, I'm awfully glad that didn't really happen. Aren't you?"

"Absolutely," myself answered.

Two days later he was in the entryway of the house where I had just given a lesson, and was trying to nab my customers for the dubious firm to which I owe my visa status. It happened like this:

I had finished my lesson and was waiting to receive my fee when it came to my attention that my time was being accorded even less value than usual. Thence proceeds the realization of a wheezy, decorous male voice expounding at length in the entryway, and the sujet de aujord'hui is children's eikaiwa. Thence hits like the proverbial brickload that this is my salesman.

What to do? I was half an hour behind schedule, and yet I couldn't very well plow through the hallway saying, "Time's up, lassies, I'll have my fivespot now, thanks," but waiting was becoming nearly as awkward. Eventually my client came back round and paid me, but I still wanted to stall for time to make sure the man was out of the neighborhood. Quick, find something to say.

"So, are sending the kids to take lessons, then?"

Not very tactful.

"A salesman was just here," my customer helpfully informed me, in case my question hadn't been based on observation of blatant reality.

"All right. Any plans to do anything, then?"

"Not really."

I took my time saying goodbye to the children, but as luck would have it my salesman was just passing in front of the house again as I closed the door. I tried to turn away, but the jig was up.

"Are?"

He first asked if I lived around there, but then noticed the materials in the basket of my bicycle. "Oh, were you just giving a lesson here?"

"What gave you the idea?"

Then he wanted to know the exact ages of the children and their language level, but I declined to offer it. I tried to make my exit as graceful--and as quick--as possible. I was prepared for a confrontation with the owner of the dubious firm to which I owe my visa status, regarding our conflict of interests, but none has come yet. It may be that my salesman's affection for me prevents him from revealing information that may put me in an embarrassing position, but if things get any stranger I may have to ignore my distaste for jingoism, belligerence and fat people, and return to the United States of America.

(talk to me, babes)

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008
10:18 pm - Youth of Today

It is said that a picture says a thousand words. This one pretty much says it all.

I'll upload some that I myself took, once I have to proper software installed. I'm still getting the hang of this new system and don't quite have everything set up as I'd like it. That will begin to come next week, when I can look forward to being less busy and more rested than I have been of late.

(talk to me, babes)

Sunday, January 20th, 2008
1:24 am - Buttocks of a Long Week

Tonight in the supermarket, there was a package of meat resting itself in the non-dairy creamer section. It must have crawled legs and walked there. The strange thing is that it didn't really register until much later that anything was awry.

I haven't had a day off in more than two weeks. When I complained of my exhaustion to a co-worker friend in passing, he chided me for "playing" too much. Why do people think that just because I'm white I never do any work? I get the impression that they just think we just sit around drinking all the lemonade or something. He probably didn't mean it that way, but the last time I saw him he was looking for the other white guy who works in our office, and wondered aloud of the guy was "taking a rest in one of the classrooms."

I've taken note, with particular annoyance lately, of a longing among the Japanese for an easy lifestyle in a socially "free" society unconstrained by Japan's social norms, where they can cut loose, spit on the rug and call the cat a bastard--and to imagine the West is that society. Some people go so far as to voice the opinion that we have no etiquette whatsoever, and certainly mainstream movies filled with attractive people acting like complete barbarians do nothing to counteract this image; indeed there is an element of truth to it, but it isn't the whole truth, just as the Japanese aren't the embodiment of all that is proper and aesthetic.

Which brings us to their annoying counterpart in the West, with which I'm also forced to deal. I've met some wonderful people online, decent people with admirable ideals, who live their lives on the basis of a grave misconception. Lacking respectable role models in their lives, they aspire to all that is regal, clean and beautiful, that their families and peers are not, and then they project all these qualities onto a Japanese pop star and by extension the Japanese people as a whole.

Why is so difficult for people to see each other as individuals instead of as members of a collective?

Lately the Internet seems to be lousy with people who love Japan and have never been here. This is the most common kind of Japanophile there is, and it's one step better than being a paedophile. The fact is it's awfully hard to stand on one's own feet, admit that no one in the world truly embodies our ideals, and build on ourselves using inspiration for various sources; it's much easier to simply invest in an icon all we hope to become--that way we don't have to work so hard at something we know we'll never achieve.

I constantly meet people who are amazed that I can speak Japanese. What in the blue blazes do they expect me to have been doing for the past five years? Then they ask me asinine questions like, "Do you like Japan?"

That brings me to another point of frustration. There seems to be an underlying assumption that everything Westerners do--whether in the arts, culture, language or social interaction--is community property, while everything Japanese do is for Japanese only. I get asked with mocking chuckles how I could possibly know the names of any of the most famous celebrities whose images are impossible to escape, how I can possibly know how to say things that get said around me constantly on a daily basis; how I can possibly have been acquainted with foods I've been eating since I was a child (with chopsticks, too--something else I started doing when I was a child). Most of my friends either have children or own businesses. At least give me the credit for being able to survive on my own in the country where I live, phony pop stars and idiot comedians in underwear alike be damned.

(1 lucubration | talk to me, babes)

Sunday, January 13th, 2008
10:50 pm - And in other news...

America needs a wake-up call, and this outspoken individual has made it his crusade.

Seriously, I haven't been this entertained by anything on YouTube in months.

I will get around to doing a real update soon, it's just that I'm still swamped with a project with which I was entrusted before the New Year, and that's why I haven't commented on such a monumental event as the passing of a year. I hope I can later this week. Cheers to all!

(1 lucubration | talk to me, babes)

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007
11:43 pm - An Examination of the Learning Environment
This is just for those two individuals who complained that my journal didn't have enough pictures. You know who you are. Now have a big mug of...

You may wonder what sort of educational materials we use to learn the youth our English tongue. In today's pictorial essay we expose for once and for all the fallacy that children's English language education is moral or ethical, or at all desirable. Indeed, some of the most profane and dangerous depravity can be found on the very walls of the classroom.

Plate A: St. Vitus' Dance Visits the Farm by Richard Scarry


In this poster, ostensibly intended to teach children the names of objects and living things on a farm, is a collage of anthropomorphic beasts involved in violent and psychotic action that would be life-threatening to imitate.

Plate B: Cat and Mouse Get Naked also by Richard Scarry


This decadent piece shows children that it is acceptable for nonhuman species to parade about in their underclothes and filch cookies from the jar, and is the prelude to this next immoral piece:

Plate C: Brazen Strumpet Kitteh Leaves Her Clothing Behind


A feline streetwalker striking a pose in her unmentionables, with her clothing hanging from a tree in the far background. Just what sort of message are we sending here? The final plate in the series takes the proverbial biscuit.

Plate D: Rampage in the City also by Richard Scarry


This urban mess can be seen at once to contain a great many horrors, but the full tenor of its madness cannot be seen until examined in detail.

Detail 1 of Rampage in the City


This angry little rodent appears to be cursing the Lord above for her petty misfortunes.

Detail 2 of Rampage in the City


In this scene, the same morally bankrupt feline featured in near nudity in other posters has obviously forced her way past the ticket agent without paying.

Detail 3 of Rampage in the City


Here we see a crocodile carried away in a stretcher, while a suicidal mouse clad only in pajamas narrowly avoids a bloody death only while chasing the feline temptress through moving traffic.

As proof of the detrimental effects of this bizarre environment on our youth, we see in this final photograph the part of the room where some young wit, obviously taking the lessons of the "educational" posters to heart, decided that the corner of the room ought to have a personality:

(3 lucubrations | talk to me, babes)

Saturday, November 24th, 2007
1:47 pm - Leave the Artists Alone!

This is so sad.



A scathing review of Coheed & Cambria



It makes me sad because I know, or knew in high school, these guys and how serious they were about their music back then and have heard what their music is about from a close friend who is still in touch with them. But here is a reviewer filled with spite and without a suitable target who got it all wrong and is apparently entertaining quite a lot of people with his venom. I suppose if I had been even slightly successful as a musician I'd have worse things written about me to entertain lots of angry people.

(talk to me, babes)

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007
9:56 pm - Coffee

Coffee Survey



TAKE THIS SURVEY!


Basics


Gender Male
Age 175
Birthday 6 July 1832
School Grade Graduate
Cultural/Ethnic Background European
Languages English, Japanese, and parts of several others
Birthplace New Jersey
Current Location Tottori, Japan
Describe Your Lifestyle in Less Than Three Words Times New Roman
Describe Your Personality in Less Than Three Words The Last Boyscout
Do you enjoy reading and/or writing poetry? More on the reading.
Is music important to you? Very.
Are you artistic/creative? I like to hope so.


Coffee Time


First off, do you even dig coffee? Absolutely.
About how many times a week do you drink coffee? Thirtysomething.
What time of day do you usually drink it? Throughout.
About how many times a day do you usually drink it? Six on weekdays.
How long have you been drinking coffee? Since high school.
Do you ever refer to coffee as java or joe? Yes, sometimes joe for humorous effect.
How about mocha, ink, or perk? Not unless it actually is mocha.
Have you ever even heard these being used? Yes.
Do you ever substitute a meal with coffee? Not substitute, but sometimes delay.
Are you easily affected by caffeine? Not easily enough.
What do you usually drink coffee out of? A thick ceramic mug.
Do you think taste is affected by what you drink it out of? Ah, now that you mention it...
Is coffee one of your favorite beverages? Yes
Do you like coffee icecream? Yes
Do you enjoy it black? When the only option is non-dairy creamer, yes.
Do you enjoy it without sweetener, period? Always without sweetener.
Do you always drink it with milk/cream? Soymilk.
Do you like flavored coffee/adding flavor? Once in a blue moon.
Do you think a good coffee should be sweet and dessert-like? Not really.
Do you drink it hot, Cold, iced Or both? Hot in the winter, iced in the summer.
If both, which do you prefer? It depends on the weather outside.
What brand of coffee do you drink? Various. I like to try new ones.
Do you believe theres any difference between brands? Definitely; each has its own characteristics.
Do you like your coffee weak or strong? Strong.
Do you drink decaf? Never!
In your opinion, what are the characteristics of an excellent coffee? Rich body and full aroma, with plenty of caffeine.
Do you like making your own coffee at home? Or do you prefer it out? Both; I enjoy the ritual of preparing it.
Do you drink your coffee in small or large servings? Medium, I think.


Specifics


Do you like cappuccino? Yes
Do you like espresso? Yes
Do you like macchiato? Not so much.
Do you like mocha? Sometimes.
Do you like frappuccino? Eww, that's not coffee.
Do you like cafe lattes? Sometimes.
In what way do you drink your coffee most often? Hot brewed, with only soymilk.


Coffee Culture


What does the word coffee make you think of? A wonderful aroma and feeling great.
Do you believe poetry and coffee just go together? Yes
Do you love the whole cafe scene? Yes
What do you think of Starbucks? It is evil. It must be stopped.
What is your favorite cafe? The Italian place in downtown Tottori
Do you think coffee deserves to have its own subculture? Absolutely
Would you ever open up your own cafe? I would love to!


Random


How does coffee make you feel? Invigorated
Why do you drink coffee? Both the taste and the feeling
Who got you to start drinking coffee? My mother and brother
How does it affect the way you act? I'm much more agreeable and productive.
Is coffee like a drug? It is a drug.
Do you think its bad for you as many claim? Not at all, but rather as good for you as equally many have demonstrated.
Do you feel as if your growth has been stunted? What are you talking about?
Are you addicted? For sure.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THIS SURVEY!

More surveys @ MySpaceBulletins.com

(talk to me, babes)

Thursday, November 15th, 2007
6:13 pm - Another Day

The owner of the dubious firm to which I currently owe my visa status recently fired the only kind member of the full-time staff. She was probably here for less than two months. A recent university graduate, it was probably her first job, and she took it very seriously and worked diligently. She wasn't here long enough that I know anything about her, but based on our limited interaction she was timid, polite, soft-spoken, humble, and cute--the kind of person we in the west think is the paradigmatic Japanese woman until we live here and find out the truth. She was also very frail and sometimes had a weak cough, so when she suddenly stopped coming in a week ago and her desk looked like it was being used for other purposes, I assumed the rigors of the job had become too much for her. After all, working here literally killed the man who hired me.

When I noticed that this young woman was missing and I questioned my senpai about it, the answer was, "Ahh, I heard," pronounced with vague finality. When I then asked, "But you don't know why?" the answer was, "Um...mmh," which means she knew why but didn't want to tell me.

The young woman appeared unexpectedly in the office tonight to pick up some things and turn in other things, and I heard from her directly that she was fired. Apparently she had made some sort of mistake for which our leader was unwilling to continue meting out an exiguous salary to retain her in his employ. Considering the amount of work she did and the compensation she was receiving for it, termination seems to me more like a reward than a punishment, but whatever. Lots of people in this impoverished city are willing to take what they can get.

I'll confess I don't know much about dire poverty. I have a friend from Nigeria who is a graduate student at Tottori University. When I met him a week ago I began the conversation by asking him if he'd been to a certain shop down the street from where we were drinking, and found out he spends nearly all of his time in the research laboratory. Which was only natural. Later in the conversation I heard that one hundred of the ten thousand people in his town own cars, and that the majority of them have no concept of what it's like to hold the equivalent of two thousand yen at any one time. I realized with considerable embarrassment how I must look to this disciplined and studious man when I'm waving the silver around on my fingers blathering about which cafes make the most authentic cappuccinos.

For even more perspective on world wealth stratification, the owner of the dubious firm to which I owe my visa status told me a few days ago, without mincing words, that my rings look cheap.

I still appreciate that he defended me against false accusations of sexual harassment, but now he's got a couple of dark weights at the other end of my scale.

(4 lucubrations | talk to me, babes)

Thursday, November 1st, 2007
10:18 pm - Homophobia
I copied and pasted this from a journal on another site, because I thought it was worth doing so. Everything within the asterisks is pasted.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Whether you are homosexual or not, you should repost this in support of your friends and loved ones who are. Love is not defined by color, creed, or gender.

I am the mother who is not allowed to even visit the children I bore, nursed, and raised. The court says I am an unfit mother because I now live with another woman.

I am the boy who never finished high school, because I got called a fag everyday

I am the girl kicked out of her home because I confided in my mother that I am a lesbian.

I am the prostitute working the streets because nobody will hire a transsexual woman.

I am the sister who holds her gay brother tight through the painful, tear-filled nights.

We are the parents who buried our daughter long before her time.

I am the man who died alone in the hospital because they would not let my partner of twenty-seven years into the room.

I am the foster child who wakes up with nightmares of being taken away from the two fathers who are the only loving family I have ever had. I wish they could adopt me.

I am not one of the lucky ones. I killed myself just weeks before graduating high school. It was simply too much to bear.

We are the couple who had the realtor hang up on us when she found out we wanted to rent a one-bedroom for two men.

I am the person who never knows which bathroom I should use if I want to avoid getting the management called on me.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who found the support system grow suddenly cold and distant when they found out my abusive partner is also a woman.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who has no support system to turn to because I am male.

I am the father who has never hugged his son because I grew up afraid to show affection to other men.

I am the home-economics teacher who always wanted to teach gym until someone told me that only lesbians do that.

I am the woman who died when the EMTs stopped treating me as soon as they realized I was transsexual.

I am the person who feels guilty because I think I could be a much better person if I didnt have to always deal with society hating me.

I am the man who stopped attending church, not because I don't believe, but because they closed their doors to my kind.

I am a warrior for my country serving proud, but can't be my true self because gays aren't allowed in the military.

I am the person who has to hide what this world needs most, love.

I am the person ashamed to tell my own friends I'm a lesbian, because they constantly make fun of them.

I am the boy tied to a fence, beaten to a bloody pulp and left to die because two straight men wanted to "teach me a lesson."




This is the boy, Matthew Shepard. On October 7, 1998 Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson lead him to a remote area east of Laramie where they demonstrated unimaginable acts of hate. Matthew was tied to a split-rail fence where he was beaten and left to die in the cold of the night. Almost 18 hours later he was found by a cyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow. Matthew died on October 12 at 12:53 am at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. KILLED BECAUSE HE WAS GAY!!!

---IF YOU BELIEVE THAT HOMOPHOBIA IS WRONG... REPOST THIS
AS "HOMOPHOBIA."

---IF YOU ARE IGNORANT... IGNORE

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And please, don't be the kind of homophobe like this guy I know right here in town who talks all sorts of homophobic bile and then gets drunk and tries to make out with me. Please, please, for the love of Pete, don't.

(talk to me, babes)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007
10:23 pm - 話題の提供: Happy Halloween!
Boo! How did you celebrate Halloween?

Not at all. I helped my elementary kids earlier with their school Halloween party and even got some of the first-graders to correctly say, "Trick or treat," and really admired some of their costumes, but tonight is bland and beige. Small cities in Japan don't have a Halloween spirit. I might cannibalize some people for Samhain, though.

(talk to me, babes)

Sunday, October 28th, 2007
10:36 pm

Two people can engage in heartfelt conversation.  Four people can engage one another in pairs or as a group.  Likewise with groups of five or more.  Only the trinity seems, based particularly on my experience of this evening, to be highly antithetical to comfortable human interaction. 

Another thing that makes my hackles rise is this nitpicky reckoning that some people thing is necessary when dividing the bill.  If some lover of maths wants to tally up my share at a thousand yen and change, please, just let me pay two thousand and forget about it.  Friendship doesn't require handfuls of tiny coins of aluminum and copper with holes in it.

(talk to me, babes)

Sunday, October 21st, 2007
6:46 pm - The Plot Congeals

I know by your comments that a few of you are concerned regarding my last post, and I thank you for your concern, so I wanted to give you all an update as to the progress of this bizarre and harrowing occurence. There has been a meeting, with my senpai, and the new owner of the dubious firm to which I owe my visa status, in attendance with the individual who claims to have received the telephone calls.

Why on earth did she think it was me? I asked her directly. 「内容、とか…」 was her evasive answer. She says the person never even called her by name, but merely spoke in a foreign accent, and she just took a guess and asked if it was me. Naturally, the person replied that it was. It has all the makings of an オレオレ詐欺 and yet in spite of a complete lack of evidence or even logic, she's still convinced that it's me and she's going to resign because of it at the end of November. Were I less shocked about the whole thing I should be angry at her for conceiving that I would even have any thoughts about her.

Apparently the image I project is contrary to what I perceive to be the reality. If I'm not at work or out with friends I'm at home, in my sanctuary, where no one bothers me and I bother no one. I'm probably reading Anne Rice and making designs on my toenails. Sometimes I talk to my plants, make some sketches, or pick out some ancient Irish tunes on the guitar. However, to some external observers, it seems somehow probable that I have such a penchant for aging housewives with Andrew Jackson hairdos that I can't resist calling to ask them for sex. For the love of hell, why would I? If someone can answer this paradox with any justification in my history or character, please notify me at once so that I can have myself committed.

And speaking of Jacksons, I was told at today's event that I resemble one. The bug-eyed chalkboard monster one. As MCs for the yearly festival held by the dubious firm to which I owe my visa status, we (two Americans and one Japanese) were given latitude to express ourselves, and against all hope that I could ever pull off looking fabulous I was informed that Jacko frequently appears on television in similar attire. The black veil on my head was even taken as a metaphor of his hair. If it should be somehow determined that my face resembles his as well, someone ought to put me in the ground. This is my karmic punishment for not owning a television; otherwise I should have known what to avoid. But after one of the teachers informed me of the resemblance a third time I sat down with him and frantically adjusted my clothing while asking him if the ghastly resemblance was gone yet. He just repeated that people don't mean it in a bad way--that they think Michael Jackson is 「格好いい」--and he couldn't grasp that I don't give a fig what people think of Michael Jackson; it's as simple as not wanting to be told you act like Hitler even (or perhaps especially) by someone who admires him.

It's as simple as not wanting to be accused of lusting after married fiftysomethings regardless of what anyone in the world thinks of such behavior.

That the loveliest of the part-timers told me I looked like Boy George, and she even tried my hat on, made up for things just a little bit. But there are still two strikes against me: on my appearance as perceived by most other people, and on my taste in women as perceived by certain other irritating people. It hasn't been a good month so far.

I'm going to have dinner with a friend now. I might even weep on her shoulder.


Look, kids! It's the Uncircumcised-Penis-and-Bollocks-for-a-Nose Chef!



current mood: morose

(2 lucubrations | talk to me, babes)

Saturday, October 13th, 2007
9:23 pm - News of the Weird Foreigner

It's time for an update, now that an incident has leapt out of the quotidian: This week I was informed by my senpai at the dubious firm to which I owe my residency status that one of our part-time teachers has for the past four months been plagued by lecherous telephone calls to her home by someone claming to be me, and that she is on the verge of quitting over "my" harassment. This person is married and has several children, some of which are not far below my age, so how anyone could believe that I would actually do such a thing really beggars the imagination, but anyway, everyone did.

I had noticed that this person's behavior toward me had been less than friendly of late, but, as I knew well that I myself had done nothing to provoke the cold shoulder from this particular individual, I dismissed it as merely the moment's manifestation of my chronic paranoia; after all, when regularly I offer a cheerful greeting upon entering the office and am met with icy silence, nearly half the time it isn't actually because they're displeased at me specifically.

Now, the person pulling this stunt is obviously someone who (a) knows my name, (b) knows that this woman and I work in the same place, (c) has access to her home telephone number, and (d) is either a native speaker of English or is able to successfully fake an English speaker's accent when speaking Japanese. A meeting has been arranged between for the two of us next week, and one would hope we can work toward some sort of solution to this very perplexing mystery. I've really exhausted my personal resources and I simply can't glean who would could possibly be responsible.

When on top of this, an innocent foray into the mere shallows of the yawning quagmire that is the World Wide Web yields stories like this, it's difficult to maintain the insouciance that's really necessary to get through the process of application to an institute of higher learning that must needs occupy my consciousness this week. (Into the faculty, not student body, silly. Wishes of luck would be immensely appreciated.)

(3 lucubrations | talk to me, babes)

Sunday, October 7th, 2007
8:08 pm - KWIZ KORNER

Bet you wimps can't guess who this is!

(3 lucubrations | talk to me, babes)

Monday, September 24th, 2007
8:16 pm - Experts Agree: Everything is Fine!

Almost perfect--the name of this store wants only a full stop and the subtext, "Be that way."

When I was about fourteen I used to frequently say that to my stepsister when she was being stubborn about something. "Fine, be that way." Soon she had picked it up and was saying it to our parental figures. She also used to pick things up from Disney films and would go around the house saying, "I'm a very busy woman, and I haven't got all day."

Not bad for a three-year-old, I thought.

Of course, these kids can recite poetry off the tops of their heads.

(3 lucubrations | talk to me, babes)

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007
7:54 pm

The prefectural orifice people came to watch me do a lesson at the elementary school on Wednesday. They wanted to know how it was that I wasn't on the JET Program; how could I have been there? What company owns me? They didn't seem to understand that I do these classes because I love children and not for any other reason. The woman in charge asked the principal's permission to talk to me after the lesson, and then went up to me and tried to talk English. She made a point of telling me how much she disliked my jokes. Had I been in a worse mood I might have responded, "Well, I don't like your dress." As I were I merely smiled politely and said, "Well, everyone has an opinion; you can't please everyone," and we shook hands and parted on amiable enough terms, although I was fairly depressed for the rest of the day.



A fellow expatriate who has some experience in these matters advised me to try being more subservient.



She came back for my next lesson, which was on Friday. I was dreading her approach, but she came right up to me and told me she absolutely loved my lesson. I was bemused. "What, no complaints today?"



"No. It's one of the best English lessons I've ever seen."



That made me happy for the rest of the day.



current mood: autistic

(talk to me, babes)

Thursday, September 20th, 2007
12:23 am - Quiz Mania

The old girl couldn't make herself go to sleep nohow, so she came back and got herself carried away with these quiz devices.

The madness started when the little one below caught my eye and I thought, Since Japan is where I'm currently doing most of my not fitting in, why don't I find out if there is a Japanese category for my kind of obscurity? And it barked back at me:

You Are a Goth!
You're so gothically outrageous, and you aren't afraid to flaunt it.
Whether you dress up like Robert Smith or a tragic Little Bo Peep,
chances are that you'll be parading around with the rest of the goths at Yoyogi Park on Sunday.
Don't forget your white makeup and blue lipstick! Who knows?
You may just get picked up by one of the seedy photographers.

Which is something I haven't been told since high school, so I thought, what if I are, then what kind? The prognosis on that front was:

You scored as Romantic Goth, You are a Romantic Goth! You can see the beauty in even the darkest of things. You probably enjoy reading, art and poetry a lot. The world can be a scary place, but love is the light that shines through it all!

</td>

Romantic Goth

95%

Nerdy Goth

90%

Old School Goth

70%

Cyber Goth

40%

Vampire Goth

40%

Fetish Goth

30%

Industrial Goth

25%

Baby Goth

20%

What type of Goth are you? (w/ freakin' awesome pics!!!)
created with QuizFarm.com

That's certainly a prettier picture than that freak with the gas mask, isn't it?

You scored as Romantic Goth, You are a romantic goth, better known as a traditional goth. You are probably quickly identified as a goth by outsiders. Black lace, bats, and moonlit cemetaries are just a few of your favorite things. Click on my name to take my other tests if you liked this one.

</td>

Romantic Goth

92%

Ethereal Goth

83%

Fantasy Goth

54%

Old-school Goth

33%

Anything-Goes Goth

29%

Industrial/Rivet-Head

29%

Confused Outsider

25%

Understanding Outsider

21%

Death Rocker

0%

Perky Goff

0%

Cyber-goth

0%

What subcategory of Goth best fits you?
created with QuizFarm.com

This sort of amusement turned out to be strangely addictive, so I took another and another. Pretty soon I was taking every quiz that caught my eye. I wanted to really learn about myself, so I tried one that would tell me how people really see me:

What stereotype do you belong to?
Your Result: No stereotype

not preppy yet not a complete loser. has good friends and doesn't revolve life around their looks or social status. All around good person. usually liked by everyone

Emo
Loner
Punk
geek/nerd
Jock
Gamer
Preppy
What stereotype do you belong to?

I scored a bit higher on emo than I was really comfortable with. In a very similar quiz with different categogory descriptions, my score for "yuppie" was the very highest directly below "no stereotype." Is this because of my attitude, or perhaps the way I speak, I wondered, so I took a quiz to find out how my pronunciation sounds to other Yanks, now that it has somewhat homogenized with that of the Limeys, Canucks and Kiwis that comprise my circle of friends, so I took this quiz. and was told:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia
 

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Midland
 
The Inland North
 
The South
 
The Northeast
 
Boston
 
The West
 
North Central
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Funny, I thought, I've not been to Philadelphia yet. But it's all in the process of self-discovery. Although this next result was a little unsettling.

Are You Gay, Bi, or Straight?
Your Result: Gay

Your result inticates a strong chance that you are gay. Either you already know this or your suspect it. Hopefully you are either accepting of this or working on doing so. Be proud of who you are!

Straight
Bisexual
Are You Gay, Bi, or Straight?

I don't feel gay. At least not right now. Although tomorrow is another day. But if gay is what I are, I want to know what kind...

You Are 29% Stereotypically Gay

You have a hint of gayness about you, but only very slight. You might have a few qualities that fit a gay stereotype. But in general few people are going to think you're gay.

How Stereotypically Gay Are You?
Make a Quiz

Finally, though, I came to one with pleasing results, and had to put it up here without too much irony, although I'm not entirely sure just what it explains.

You Are 96% Gentleman
No doubt about it, you are a total gentleman.
You please the pickiest ladies, and you make everyone in a room feel comfortable.



current mood: amused

(talk to me, babes)

Monday, September 10th, 2007
9:33 pm - A Dose of Balderdash

Today, I found out some things about myself that rather surprised me. Firstly,

Your Brain is 87% Female, 13% Male
You have the brain of a girly girl
Which isn't a bad thing at all
You're emphatetic, caring, and in tune with emotions.
You're a good friend and give great advice.

Well then, I thought. It explains why I'm still friends with most of my former girlfriends. But now that I know my mental gender, while I'm at it, why not learn my mental age as well?

How Old You Act: 84

You're an old fart. But that is A-OKAY! People may think you're being obnoxious sometimes when you say things that put them at a disadvantage, or when you use logic and reasoning as opposed to just doing what everyone else is doing, but really they're just jealous that you can act so much older that they can, and you don't look like an idiot. You may patronize people, and that's not a good thing. Try to cut back on how

How Old Do You Act?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

If anyone reads this, please help me. I may not remember my name tomorrow.

(3 lucubrations | talk to me, babes)

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