blacklilly: (Ero ero ero)
So I began the year by reading Murakami's "Norwegian Wood".  Having heard so many people rave on about this book I had high expectations, so I was quite disappointed when it basically turned out to be a love story.  I expect to be pleasantly befuddled by a Murakami novel, not puking in my mouth from post-pubescent wallowing.  Toru Watanabe is another example of why I loathe Murakami's male protagonists - they're all passive, weak-willed "men" who retreat down wells/hide in their rooms/run away to Kyushu as soon as the slightest thing happens  to upset their selfish, navel-gazing little existences (which is usually their wife leaving them, and quite right too).  I spent the first half of the book wondering when the Murakami trinity would kick in - weak-willed man (evident from page 1); hiding in well/room/Kyushu (about half-way through); cat - just after half-way through, so I wasn't let down in that respect. 

This time I found reading "Norwegian Wood" just as depressing as when I read "Dance Dance Dance", though perhaps the violent suicidal thoughts didn't present as they did last time.  And yet, by the end of the book, I had made my peace with it, and I am able to appreciate why it was so popular upon its release.  However, in my opinion, not his best. 

So, I move on from one depression-inducing book to one which I was warned would be thoroughly misery-making, Cormac McCarthy's "The Road".  It has been sitting on my shelf for about 7 months and my inner masochist decided now would be time to read it, what with the disappointment of the Copenhagen Climate conference fresh in my mind.  And strangely, so far I find it totally riveting, only slightly misery-making and less irritating than "All The Pretty Horses".  When the world goes to shit, which isn't far off, I can see this as a very credible projection of how things will end up.   Anyway, more on that when I've finished it.

So, on to other things.  Given the extremely bad mood I've been in the past week, I'm not sure what possessed me to watch "The Time Traveller's Wife" on Saturday night.  Perhaps because it seemed to be the only functioning movie on Ninjavideo, or was it the half a bottle of wine I'd consumed by myself?  I haven't read the book, and I really knew nothing about the movie.  I liked the idea of time travelling, and I also empathized with the wife of a guy who is genetically unreliable (maybe that's just me reading my own issues into things), but it's just a saccharine, nasty love story with a devilishly impish-looking little girl chucked in towards the end for cute factor.  I could see her with a big kitchen knife in her hand, that would have been a better ending.  

I made up for this torture by watching "Inglorious Basterds" on Monday night, which was much better.

So books and films this year:

Books                                                   Films

Murakami - Norwegian Wood              Brothers
McCarthy - The Road                          The Time Travellers' Wife
                                                            Inglorious Basterds

On Sunday, Chelsey and I ventured to Akihabara to get her a new power cord for her laptop.  I spent 20 minutes lurking in the station counting otaku before she turned up.  Our quest took us to different shops, the first two of which were totally useless as none of the staff were very interested in helping us out.  Coming out of Yodobashi Camera, our second stop, we walked though a crowd of people standing and sitting outside the store.  They were totally silent. Then I realized that everyone was crouched over a Nintendo DS.  So there was a massive silent crowd of geeky men (and two pre-pubescent girls) playing on their DS's on sunny Sunday afternoon in Akihabara.  Sometimes I love Tokyo.  Which is why I live in Yokohama.

So, I'm currently sporting a particularly fetching purple-black bruise on my stomach from a little bike accident.  I publicized this event on Facebook, fishing for some sympathy as I was quite achey and pissed off at the time, but only one kind soul expressed their concern for me.  Thanks a lot everyone else, remind me to punch you in the face next time I see you.  I received said injury whilst cycling up an overpass on my way back from the Tesco in Minatomirai.  It's a steep, curving slope to the top and you need to put a lot of welly into getting up there, which is why having a bag jam in the forks on the front tyre is not quite what you want to experience.  I ended up in a sort of reverse wheelie, and it took a lot of balance and muscle to keep the bike from tipping over.  So I came crashing back down to earth, upright, but ended up slamming into my handlebars. 

Hmm, so, next time I'll walk the overpass.
blacklilly: (Shibuya)
It being  sunny day I decided, after washing my kitchen floor, do the washing up, hoovering, doing the laundry and some yoga, that it would be a nice idea to leave the house and bask in what seem to be temperatures equivalent to an English summer, before it becomes impossible to open the windows for fear of bugs and death by heat suffocation.  Of course, I don't normally like to leave the house on a Sunday, unless it's to take on the swarming mass of Tokyo with other company.  So...I'd forgotten why I don't like leaving the house.  Within about 5 minutes some eijit on a bicycle tried to take me out on the pavement leading down to an underpass.  An underpass, that is, with designated cycle paths.  And he had a fully functioning bell on the front of that bike, too.  I've decided that if I must leave the house, I shall do it on my bike, and then at least I'm on an equal footing and only really need to worry about cars.  Eventually I found a quiet footpath between some houses and strolled down there before taking a hasty detour home, taking an underpass beneath the train tracks which also coincides with the small river nearby heading underground for a couple of blocks.  It was rather eerie under there so I took a photo...on my Holga.  You'll just have to wait for it.

Golden Week was rather lovely.  I went down to Gifu to stay at Rachel's house. I took the night bus, which was an exercise in torture I don't wish to repeat.  It would all be fine if my legs didn't decide to take on a life of their own whenever I'm on long journeys.  Having weird leg spasms while you're attempting to sleep is deeply uncomfortable and no doubt a little weird looking to the other passengers.  Next time I'll just suck it up and take the Shinkansen.

Here're some photos from Gifu:

     

The Other Laura and I posing in Nagoya.           Down by the river in Gifu after the BBQ.  I was sporting an 80s quiff and pink sunglasses.




Looking along the river to Mount Kinka, with Kinka castle at the top.
And this is me half way up it.

After Gifu, my friend Brooke visited for a couple of days.  We hit China town in Yokohama in the pouring rain, and spent the afternoon with [livejournal.com profile] jennarose  in a cafe discussing Dean Winchester and drinking coffee.  Dinner was at a cool little Mexican place (it being Cinqo de Mayo (spelling?)) which did great food in small portions and had a quite confused waiter.  I think it took three languages to get all our ordering done - Spanish, Japanese and English.  At the end of dinner the guy lifted up the apron on the little skeleton in the doorway and flashed us a stuffed willy whilst thanking us loudly and guffawing. 

Which also reminds me of the Moroccan restaurant we went to in Nagoya, which did fabulous cheese briwat, hummous and fish tagine.  And then there was belly-dancing!  I was dead impressed. 

Speaking of belly dancing, I shall be returning to the land of shimmy tomorrow after a month's break.  In the meantime I've been checking out various videos on youtube and have decided that I need to learn to do Tribal bellydance.  Watch this and you'll see why. The best bit is about halfway through.  You'll know which bit I mean.

Err, that's it for now.  Maybe some more ramblings later, after I've consoled myself with a chocolate Hobnob and a cup of tea.


blacklilly: (Angsty)


This was this morning's breakfast: tofu with wakame and somen noodles in a miso broth using my own homemade vegan dashi stock.  Super yummy it was too,  I should eat it everyday, but sometime I love toast too much.
 
Yesterday's trip to Roppongi was very nice, despite the heavy rain and high winds.  We met at the very cool Aoyama Book Center, where I spent my time cooing over various font and sample pattern books.   After a fabulous lunch, we then went to check out Roppongi Hills which is full of nice expensive shops, including a very very nice Tsutaya full of magazines, books and coffee.  On the way we stopped off at the Asahi TV station so Kazumi could giggle over her favourite TV programme like the big fangirl she is.  We finished off in the Tokyo Nation Art Museum.  We didn't actually go to any of the exhibitions, because that costs money, but we did check out the gift shop, which has loads of interesting little bits and pieces in it.  I bought some more postcards for my 2009 postcard project (in which I attempt every month to send someone I know, somewhere in the world, a postcard, in a vain attempt at keeping in touch).  Just before we went back home I stumbled across a pet shop and keened and cooed over the kitty-cats (and a six-week odl puppy, who should NOT have been on his own).  Then I went home to my empty apartment, which has no feline inmate,

For some ridiculous reason, I can't get rid of the underline on this page.

Anyway, I came back home and downloaded the latest episode of Dollhouse, which finally seems to be making a bit of progress.  This episode I think, is what everyone wants Dollhouse to be - a bit more of the Whedon-lingo, a faster moving plot, and some nice surprises.  Much improved.  More like this please.

It's nice and sunny today so I'm going out on a bicycle adventure soon.  The wid is pretty strong, so strong in fact that my apartment buiilding shakes with every strong gust.  I'm attempting to find a park i saw a sign for last week.  It'll probably turn out to be a foot square piece of green surrounded by old ladies with cameras.

blacklilly: (Default)
I think I quite like being stoned on prescriptions.  It makes the working week that bit much faster, even if I am very grumpy.

Well, I did have plans to go out today, but they fell through at the last minute (and after I'd made the effort to get out of bed early on a Sunday too), so I grabbed my Holga, jumped on my bicycle and went for a meander about the local warren of streets, narrowly avoiding death on one occasion.  I took a few photos - one of an egg factory with some huge cute chicks painted on the side of it, some other brightly painted housing blocks, the "river", and I should have got a snap of the whole 8 year old baseball team cycling along the river either going to or coming back from a game, but I was too intent on getting out of their way.

This afternoon three of the local kids came knocking on my door looking for their baseball, which is somewhere on one of the balconies up here (not mine).  They got a bit of a fright when I opened the door, but quickly rallied themselves to thank me in English for looking for the ball.  I wish I'd taken a photo of them too.

Having a new camera is good fun.  I've been thinking of all sorts of stuff I could be doing with it, and the fact that it's so easy to customize and mess around with presents limitless possiiblities.  I have, however, not yet taken photos of my feet (which is good).  I'm always painfully reminded of my younger self during a scene in "Lost in Translation" where Charlotte is talking about all the things she tried to do when she was unsuccessfully figuring out what to do with her life: writing, but her writing sucked; photography, but all she did was take photos of her feet.  Are we all just cliches?  Are we the same narrative repeating itself over and over again? 

My plan tonight is to make Laura's magic toaster oven aubergine parmegiana.

Where has the afternoon gone?
blacklilly: (Default)
I've been thoroughly miserable since I came back to Japan. I know, I know, post-holiday blues etc etc, but I don't think I've ever had them this bad. I was telling my friend and co-worker Kazumi about how annoyed I was, and she said:

"But Japan's a good place!"

"Yes, it is!" I replied. "But... I want to be back in Thailand!" Maybe it's a sign of how much like home Japan has become that I feel a little downhearted to return, although, truth by told, I was quite relieved to get back here after my trip home in April, if only because I could eat brown rice and miso soup for breakfast.

The photos are back, but you'll have to wait a little longer for them all as I need to knock my ramblings into shape before unleashing them on you. Meanwhile, you can have this picture of me looking insanely happy in the sea:




Read more... )
blacklilly: (Default)
For some reason the payment for my LJ didn't go through so LJ has reverted me back to an account with advertising. I some ways it's a relief as I now have the money to pay for a magazine subscription that needs renewing. However, it does mean that my blog will have adverts on it, which is not something I'm not too happy about. See, I keep looking at them - Cthulhu statues, Cthulhu Lives T-shirts, lose 9lbs fast, goth clothes...

Anyway, I didn't talk about what I got up to Sunday. After two days of dismal rain I awoke to find it gloriously sunny outside. Having anticipated a rainy day in bed, I joyfully leapt out from the covers (well, not quite) and hopped on my bike. I went over to Tsutaya to pick up horror films. The selection there is quite dreadful. For example, they have Halloween H2O, and the duff sequels, but they don't have the original. I got "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" and "Marie Antoinette", which is a horror of a different sort.

After that I pootled back through town and went along a road I've never been down in order to find a shop called "Avenue" which had very cool hats earlier this year, and which obviously weren't there now. I need a nice hat for winter as I've gone off my hat with the devil horns and my other tight knit cap which is functional but not good-looking.

On the way back I found a little path leading up through very tall bamboo. I decided to check it out and followed some steps up into what seems to be some hillside garden still under construction. I then took another path but was creeped out by these huge, yellow bellied spiders who'd contructed 3-D webs above the path with silk that was worryingly thick. I kept thinking of [livejournal.com profile] greygirlbeast's "Silk" and getting one of those buggers stuck to me to I turned back round and went home (via Watahan to get Taiyaki).

And that was my Sunday in the sunshine. I headed to Nagano yesterday, which was not as painful as before despite having to change trains twice in each direction. And then I came home and hung around in the bath for ages. Lovely.
blacklilly: (Default)
Not really much to say about this one. I've been planning a trip to Takato, the next town east of Ina, but it looks like it could be a long cycle so I've decided to start going out more often on my bike with the intention of readying myself for the long trip. This morning I went North along the river, yet again seeing how long it took before I had to to get on a main road after the cycle path ran out.

On the way I passed a lot of rice fields, most of which are being harvested this week with some interesting methods - either by hand and hanging the rice sheaves up to dry, or just sucking them into a machine and spitting out the stalks.






So I passed a few interesting bridges, bit generally it was quiet and uneventful, save for pairs of dragonflies repeatedly flying dangerously close to my spokes. I hit the end of the road when I passed an odd looking man hanging around at the end of a gravel pathway. He gave me a filthy look when I thanked him for stepping aside and drove off, after which I realised that cycling this path would place my tyres in peril.


End of the line

So I turned round and came back to Ina, which looks alright when you stick some pretty wild flowers in the front of the shot (anyone know the names of these flowers?):




I stopped off at school to clock in and then headed to the bakery for croissants. However, I had to wait ten minutes for them to come out of the oven, so I sat chatting to the bakery lady about hot it is. And indeed the warmth is rather unprecedented for this time of year 31-32 degrees every day this week, though not too humid, which makes it more bearable.

Anyway, I'm now at home wondering what to do with myself. I have two short stories on the go presently but am stuck on both of them. I feel like going back to sleep for a while. Not a bad idea...
blacklilly: (Default)
Yesterday was a rather lovely day, so to escape the stifling heat in my apartment I slapped on the SPF 50 and went out on my bike. I had planned to see how far along the river I could go by following the small road that runs along my side of the confluence, but after city hall it became a smaller road and ended up circling round some sort of stone works and then up along a main tributary to the Tenryu river which I had cycled along before. Knowing where I was I decided to cycle up this way and see how close to Takato I could get.

Takato is a nearby town well known in Japan for its cherry blossom in spring and people come from far away to view it. I was taken there once for a soba lunch, but that was the extent of my trip. I mentioned trying to cycle there to someone once. They sucked air through their teeth and told me it was too far. I've come to understand that the local version of "too far" involves any distance further than 10 minutes walk, as a lot of people here rely on their cars to get around. Admittedly, a lack of a "gas pig" makes getting about extremely dangerous in places as large trucks and bikes don't mix.

So I cycled up the small road and eventually hit the path that follows the river.



It's a raised path, which means you have a great view of the river and surrounding rice paddies as you go. It was also empty. I met no one until I bumped into a group of boys who'd parked their motorbikes and scooters right across the path. I had to jump off my bike to get round and one them at least apologised "Gomen nasai," he said, then, "Sorry."

" Daijobu," I replied, hopping bike on my bike and rolling away. I carried on, passing the spot I had reached on my previous journey this way at the 4.5km mark. Just after here the path runs along the main road and up ahead I could see the road bridge turning for Takato. However, I realised that journey was probably not right for a late afternoon jaunt and so took the cycle path on the other side of the river instead. Here the trees close in above you and the screaming of cicadas, normally just background noise, became deafening. I cycled on, hearing amongst the high-pitched screech the snap and crackle of "generator bugs". They sound like electric power lines. *



Coming out from the trees I passed close to the river and then by some "allotments" where I saw rows of what I think were peanut plants growing. On and on I cycled, enjoying the view, though beginning to feel the sun on my face a little too much. The 10km cycle path finishes at a picnic and mini-golf site where I was tempted to stop and read Harry Potter, having brought it with me, but I carried on, and headed back home via City Hall, which has a nice garden with a stream running through it.



I had a quiet sit down, noticing that my left knee was aching, but hopped up when I realised large ants were running all over me. I think one of them bit my leg too.

So back on the bike and home again. I think yesterday's ride clocked in at about 14km, possibly more, which makes me feel quite pleased with myself. My knee and hips ache slightly this morning though.

I spent the rest of yesterday reading Harry Potter. I'm up to Chapter 23, but am making myself wait until this afternoon before reading the rest as I need a bath, and then have to do my Japanese homework, and then go to my Japanese lesson.

Today is the start of Obon, a Buddhist ancestor festival. And last night, I missed the meteor showers. Maybe there'll be a few tonight...

* For an idea of what this sounds like check out (-)Ions on Tool's "Aenima" album.
blacklilly: (Default)
Last night I dreamt that I was going to become a man.

I was in my doctor's surgery in Stoke Poges, and was very much on guard as I didn't want anyone to know why I was there. I went into the doctor's room and sat down. Without even any preliminaries she plonked down on the desk in front of me a tall black flask full of testosterone, a bottle of pills, some pamphlets and a few other things that have only vague shapes. She said: " People will start to notice very soon, but you just have to tell them what happened to you and they'll understand why you want to be a man." At this point I started panicking. I suddenly realised that I didn't want a beard, and that I would have to deal with an unknown amount of abuse from people because of my changing body. In the back of my mind I wanted to ask about when I'd get my cock, but the doctor left the room abruptly. I sat in the chair for what seemed like ages and then and thought about "Hedwig and the Angry Inch". Then I put all my goodies in a black plastic bag and left.

This must come from a reading "Orlando", and an article in "Dreamflesh" about the taboo of female body hair.

In other news, I bought a bicycle this morning. It's a black folding mountain bike, and is extremely heavy - but good to ride. I felt great joy as I cycled off from Watahan in the morning sunshine with the breeze blowing through my hair. I will have to plan some weekend adventures now.

This caps a rather lovely weekend. I went out on Saturday night with Kumi to see a few local bands, all of whom were great - rock n roll, more balladic proggy stuff, and a funk-rock band to finish. I had a peculiar conversation with the bassist of the second band - peculiar because I could actually understand what he was saying, even if I was unable to reply to any great extent with my crap Japanese. We discussed music (as you do with musicians) including Dream Theater's bassist John Myung.

On Sunday we had planned a picnic, but the weather was a bit dodgy so Kumi and I decided we'd go bowling instead. We took Masaya and Makoto with us. I suck at bowling. We ended up in the park having a picnic after all, as we couldn't find anywhere to eat the McDonald's (bad bad Laura!) we'd bought for lunch. Masaya encouraged me and Makoto to talk in our respective second languages, which is always quite amusing, as Makoto's English is as good as my Japanese, so we just end up giggling with embarassment. Meanwhile, Kumi searched for a six-leaf clover, having found a five-leaf clover during the week. After that we played billiards, at which I am a lot better. It was a good day, which I finished off with a long bath and then "The Lost Boys".

I have to go to Tokyo this Friday for a meeting. 4 hours of meeting, 8 hours of travelling. I'm trying to make it more worthwhile by planning a magazine haul in Shinjuku's Tower Records.

Poverty

Jun. 19th, 2002 10:46 pm
blacklilly: (Default)
Well, I's still unemployed thus have no money BUT...

I do get to sit in the garden sunning myself (though I did this too much the other day and made myself feel sick. Had to go and lie down in a dark room like a Victorian lady with the vapours!) I also get to go on nice long bike rides round Black Park (where Hagrid's house is!), take the dog for a walk, and do yoga in the sun on the grass. Alas, I am watching too much daytime TV - i will get a fat arse and start knitting if I'm not careful. Have been phoning lots of agencies saying "Gimme a job dammit!" but to no avail. I have had company these past two days as my sister has had food poisoning. This quite shocked me as I didn't think she ate... She's even thinner now...bitch.


I am off the the London Graduate Recruitment Fair next week so hopefully someone will take a fancy to me. I will be staying away from the MOD stand though - I've escaped once and have learnt my lesson.

Poor poor Hilary sitting at my old desk. I think about her a lot. We will meet up in therapy sometime no doubt - the Civil Service Recovery Anonymous group.

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