blacklilly: (Smiley)
Just re-posting the forthcoming list so I don't have to trawl though entries to remind myself what I'm doing.

Day 11 - What did you find most overrated and underrated about Japan?
Day 12 - Describe a fail!gaijin moment. (Where you did something wrong or completely misunderstood because you couldn't ~read the air~ or just plain had no idea what you were supposed to do because you weren't born and raised here) Describe a gaijin!smash moment .(Where your foreignness was to your benefit)
Day 13 - -Something about Japan that sets it apart from anywhere else.
Day 14 - What is the hardest thing about living in Japan versus your home country?
Day 15 - Weirdest food item you've seen, and weirdest food item you've actually eaten.
Day 16 - How you realised you'd acclimated to Japan. (if you have)
Day 17 - Your karaoke top 5, your sushi top 5, your conbini top 5.
Day 18 - Post some amusing/cute/faily purikura.
Day 19 - Your favorite Japanese character(s) and Gachapon/UFO Catcher toys
Day 20 - Favorite Japanese festival or folklore.
Day 21 - Favorite and least favorite Japanese fashion trends.
Day 22 - Your favorite Japanese saying or kotowaza (proverb).
Day 23 - What is something you have/do in Japan that you wish you had/could do in your home country?
Day 24 - Your favorite Japanese slang or borrow-word (外来語), e.g. セフレ "sex friend"
Day 25 - Most interesting vending machine find.
Day 26 - What's your favorite/least favorite train line.
Day 27 - Place you avoid going to if at all possible.
Day 28 - A picture of you looking like a weaboo/A picture of you trying to blend in and failing.
Day 29 - What's the thing you [will] miss most about Japan when you leave (either on vacation, or move away)?
Day 30 - Did Japan meet your expectations, both good and bad? What has been the most surprising thing about Japan for you, or the thing you least expected?

My house in shaking.  Not from an earthquake, but from a building site just down the road.  Most irritating it is at 9am.

Japanese class went well.  Apparently I haven't forgotten that much, as I my teacher very kindly kept telling me how impressed she was.  Still, I had some trouble getting my words out and had to stop and think a few times, but I didn't spot too many grammatical errors - apart from dropping particles (which Japanese people do a lot anyway) I was OK.

I'm gonna cook a spicy tomato and garlic sauce and then I'm heading off to a party.  Hurrah!
blacklilly: (Takoyaki!)
The week began rather well with a hastily arranged "date" with a guy I met on Mixi, who is ridiculously skinny, has great earrings, and quite lovely sideburns, a rare treat in Japanese men.  Oh yeah, and he's a guitarist in a rock band, so keeping with the theme there...  We hung out in Shibuya on Monday, conducting a quite challenging conversation about horror movies in Starbucks on the Shibuya station crossing.  It's difficult to talk about horror when you don't know the Japanese for words like possession, ghost, exorcism, psychic and slasher.  Then we had a beer in a 300yen bar I know and had 45 minutes of heavy metal geekery.  Then we went to karaoke for an hour to get out of the freezing cold.  I've always considered karaoke boxes to be the perfect place to hide out and snog for a hour, but that's just me apparently.  I've never been to karaoke on a "date", and I've never been to karaoke with anyone who can actually sing, so that was a double whammy of firsts.  When he started singing an Exile song and actually managed to hit the high notes I think my mouth hung open agog. 

When we came out of karaoke, the freezing temperature had brought some pretty heavy snow with it, so we raced down the street and ended up heading into the first warm looking entrance-way we found, which quite fortunately happened to be the entrance to The Lock-Up, a prison-themed izakaya restaurant I've been to before, where we were handcuffed together (not quite appropriate for a first date, ne) and marched to a dimly lit cell.  The restaurant plays heavy metal, has oddly named food and drink, and once an hour scares the crap out of it patrons when the staff don horror character outfits and run about in the dark slamming cell doors and glaring menacingly about.  It was quite a change from the thoroughly pleasant organic-vegan-macrobiotic izakaya I'd been to the day before.

We ended up in my favourite rock bar just down the road, where the cute staff always recognize me and start making devil horns gestures.  I think the night I staggered in with Satan and proceeded to play darts while chatting people up the week before Halloween left quite an impression.
(Me and Satan in a lift which looks like a doorway to hell,
but is actually the easiest way to find some heavy metal in Shibuya)

Anyway, it turned out, contrary to the website, that Monday night is not heavy metal night.  Instead I was subjected to Pulp and numerous other things NOT heavy metal.  There was even a Backstreet Boys video on the TV behind the bar, so we sat about and randomly insulted members of said boy band.   

So, it was a pretty good night, though I'm not sure it's gonna go anywhere, and my brain was frazzled after speaking Japanese for 5 hours.

On the way home the snow continued to fall in huge soggy chunks, so I had a excited Chelsey on the phone, who may have been padding about outside her apartment barefoot in the snow (she's from Texas and gets quite excited about cold weather and white stuff).  Or maybe I imagined that bit.  Here's a picture of the first and only snow of 2010 near my house:

(The snow's actually a bit rubbish isn't it?  It was gone the next morning.)

So, having awoken to the disappointment of not being snowed in and unable to go to work, I "jacked-in" to the web (to coin a Neuromancer term which daily seems more and more appropriate) to find the Australian branch of  the global behemoth that is  my English Language Korporation had gone bankrupt.  Cue much internal flailing and panic until I realized that  if I do become homeless when the Korporation  finally sinks beneath the waves, it will probably be a very very good thing.  More on that at a later date.  There are plans afoot... all of which involve money sadly.

So, off to work and a day of tense, whispered conversations about how to get out before the inevitable capsizing, whilst maintaining shiny happy faces for the paying customers.  Things were made even more tense when I returned home to find the results of my Japanese exam waiting in the postbox.  As I was pretty certain of having cocked the whole thing up I was more than a little gobsmacked upon opening the letter to find a big shiny "PASSED" printed on the paper.  I actually jumped up and down, spun around a bit, did a little dance and then phoned my mum in England, because there's no one easier to impress than your mum.  It averaged out at a 75% pass mark, which is very respectable.  Kanji and vocabulary were the strong points, followed by listening and then grammar and reading.  It must have been the reading section that pulled me through the third section, as I fail to believe that I actually have a competent grasp of Japanese grammar.  So on to the next exam, which requires a knowledge of 1000 kanji, 6000 words and more ridiculous grammar.  I think I should start now.

It was a good  week last week, so I shall endeavor to fill you in with more adventures later...


Nov. 8th, 2009 02:16 pm
blacklilly: (Crazy)
I've just managed to make myself miserable by taking another mini-grammar test.  It was the worst one I've done yet.  In fact, one section I scored exactly ZERO on.  I'm beginning to wonder whether I should actually sit the Japanese test in December or not.  It actually seems that the more I study, the worse I do.  I may actually have more luck by randomly selecting answers than thinking about them.

I guess I will end up doing the exam as it cost 6000yen to apply for, and then an extra 10000yen or so in study texts.  And the sheer amount of effort I'm putting into studying will be totally wasted if I don't give it a go.  I just don't want to get the result in the post with a big FAIL written across it.

Hmmm.  What to do???? 

In other news, Friday November 6th was my 3 year anniversary in Japan.  I'm not really sure what this means, but it has coincided with a rather strong bout of itchy feet.  People asked if I did anything to celebrate.  On Friday night I went home and studied, but last night I was invited for a drink with a co-worker and a couple of students who were having a mini-leaving party.  I had a beer and then went home and studied some more.  Perhaps I'm studying too much.  I've already done about 3 hours today and it's only 2pm.  In fact, I do feel a little brain-dead.  Maybe I should go and play on Farmville...

Sunday Joy

Feb. 15th, 2009 03:43 pm
blacklilly: (Default)
Having turned down snowboarding trip today on the basis that I was still regurgitating lung as of Friday, I awake this morning to discover that the bloody thing has almost cleared up.  Which is a little disappointing, as I feel like I falsely turned it down now.  My knee, however, decided that it would start hurting again on Thursday.  Whenever the subject of snow-based exercise/injury is brought up my knee magically starts twinging.  In fact, it seems to be doing it right now... Weird.

Anyway, yesterday was Valentine's Day, which in Japan involves the setting up of mile upon mile of chocolate and cake stalls throughout every available shopping mall.  There was even a Cosy Corner (best shukurimu - profiterole type goodness- ever) set up outside the subway station in Iidabashi on Friday morning.  February 14th is for girls to give gifts and chocolate to their friends, boyfriends and intendeds.  March 14th, known as "White Day", is for guys to return the favour and continue the oiling of the consumer wheel until Cherry Blossom Season starts in April.  There seemed to be some expectation upon me to provide chocolate to not only the people I work with, but also my students.  Thanks, to an excellently timed package from my mum, I was able to give out Cadbury's Giant Chocolate Buttons and still keep enough for my emergency chocolate stash.

Speaking of which, another package also arrived yesterday, containing my copy of A is for Alien.  I spent my lunch break cooing over the lime-green end papers and sniffing the paper. (Yes, I was getting strange looks.)  Alas, I had to leave it at work, along with the chocolate as I didn't want to cart it arounf Tokyo last night.

Being one of a few singletons I know, we decided to have a little V-day get together, so I hopped over to Hon Atsugi.  Alas, the Peruvian place with shut, so we ended up in a cool little okonomiyaki place called Bochi Bochi (Kansai-ben for so-so in English).  I was messing around with a new film in the Holga, so we'll see how it all turns out.  After, we went to a cool little snack bar called Ray's Aquarium and Liquor, which my friend Kate says sounds like a backwater Texan bar.  The bar itself has leather sofas and the table tops are panes of glass through which you can gaze at tropical fish, including baby blowfish.  Needless to say, all I did all night was coo at the fish and take stupid double exposure shots through the glass.  I dread to think what a waste of film that's going to be.

After a very long train journey home (the station staff were all looking quite jumpy today too), I checked the post to find the results of my Japanese exam waiting for me.  I steeled myself for the grand opening by telling myself that failing the exam was not the end of the world.  As it turned out though, I passed - 93% in writing and vocab, 86% in reading and grammar, and a sad but not unexpected 76% in listening.  So pretty darn good.  I think I might treat myself to a bottle of wine tonight in celebration.  First, though, I need to tidy up.  I'm sure I tidied on Thursday...

TV I'm going to watch today: Dollhouse, QI, The Wire(maybe) and Supernatural (finally I get to understand all the Jensen squeeing).  You see why I always complain of having no time, ne?

blacklilly: (Default)
It seems like a good while since I actually made a proper post about anything other than what my favourite colour is, or what kind of mythical creature I may be. I'm not going to promise one now. More a brief summary.

Firstly, I guess some apology for the absence of excitement going on here. I left you hanging with the "getting kicked out of the gym" story, but you're gonna have to wait. One of the reasons I've been quiet for so long is that I have been frantically studying for my Japanese exam for the past couple of months. It took place yesterday, and as I walked out of the university building back to the train station a considerable weight was lifted from my hunched shoulders. I've spent much of the past couple of months trying to get verb and adjective conjugations into my head, along with some kanji, and the pesky katakana which still continues to evade my brain despite looking at the damn stuff for over two years. The past two weeks I banned anything but Japanese books as train reading, and pretty much everything else got thrown to the sidelines as well. So, I am now determined to get back to some kind of normality. If my paycheck had been anything other than blisteringly disappointing this month, I would also be attempting to have some fun. But we can't have everything, can we?

The other reason for the silence and the hunched shoulders is the "slump" I've been having for the past month or two. Life alone and abroad has peaks and toughs, but I think this is the longest and deepest trough I've had to brave. I think it all actually began with getting kicked out the gym, and since then I've been feeling rather defensive and grouchy about everything. I don't wish to trivialize it, as it's not really very funny having to get up in the morning and immediately deal with a barrage of abuse from my own brain; nor do I want to be dramatic, as I'm not exactly about to throw myself in front of the next Keikyu Line train either (though I am tempted to get myself a shotgun and take out some old-ladies on bicycles). That's why I made the post a few days ago asking for someone to remind me about some good stuff. I've learned how to get myself out of these things, even if it does take me a while to realise what's going on. Anyway, thanks to the TWO people who could think of something nice. You reminded me of a couple of things I'd forgotten about, so I'll be taking that all on board.

As usual, I don't seem to have any money. Last month I saved 30000yen towards my emergency money fund (just in case I need to get out of Japan). However, last months' highly unusual paycheck, a whopping 40000yen more than this month, gave me a false sense of solvency which has been rudely squashed this month. (My friend in Nagoya, who also seems to never have any money, has it worse than me, though. She told me the other day that her weight goes up and down by half a stone every month depending on whether it's the start or the end, as this dictates how much money she has for food - and she has more money than me!). It sucks that it has to be December, when most people are partying hard and I need new things like socks, and new bed sheets and pillows. Maybe Santa will send me some stripey socks?

Anyway, given that I've been silent for so long I'm going to make you a list of things I need to tell you about:

1) Getting kicked out the gym
2) Going to Osaka and having a fabulous time in a forest
3) Some thoughts on books and films and music
4) Err, other stuff - like crazy people on the train, how much I hate old ladies, and why old men love me.

So I promise to get round to all that, as well as Xmas cards ASAP.

A nice thing to finish. I went to the bakery (which also has a huge coffee bean selection) near my house tonight, and after getting my loaf of bread sliced they gave me coffee for no other reason than that I was there. So I sat at a table surrounded by bread, coffee and Japanese crockery, and drank black bitter coffee out of a dainty little cup. Then they gave me calendar on my way out. I'm going there more often on a Monday night.
blacklilly: (Default)
So "Before Sunset" was a lovely as I remember it. What I love about this and its prequel is the long continuous shots used throughout, something you just don't see in modern movies. I also love the conversations. They remind me of the way Gid and I used to sit about talking about anything and everything when things were good, and even when they weren't. I always leave these films thinking about the discussion they had, as though they were actually having them with me too. I had to empty my head in my Moleskine before going to bed as my mind ws spinning with thoughts.

Today I had my two Japanese lessons, which went very well, and I found a new cafe to lurk in - a Vietnamese-style place called Cafe Du Du where I was served iced Chai. Yummy.

I also had to get some new passport photos done (as I need a new passport) and was amused by the huge number of freckles that showed on the photo booth screen. I was aware that this photo will be used for the next 10 years to identify me, which is quite amusing. What will I look like at 37? I compared the photo of me at 17 with this one. Somehow my face seems longer now, and I'm mush more rosey cheeked. My hair is a different colour, but back then it changed regularly, and of course, I'm now proudly wearing my fabulous glasses in this photo, rather than hiding them in my hand out of shot. The heavy eyeliner still exists, but my eyes are not as puffy as they were then. Not bad, but it would be nice to a photo with my cheek bones evident.

Tonight, tempura and X-Files.
blacklilly: (Default)
That cool picture with the eye of the typhoon over Kyushu has now blown itself to bits. The link looks boring now. This morning it's, so far, cool and windy, but then I am sitting in just my knickers writing this so who knows what it's like with clothes on. You really didn't need to know that.

On Thursday night Andrew, myself, and my new area leader (read 'boss'), Bruce, went out for dinner. At 3am Bruce and I called it a night, leaving Andrew with his 3rd bottle of that dirtiest of drinks - Shochu. I came in to work at 11am on Friday and was met by the lady from the mochi shop who informed me that she had found Andrew passed out in front of the school at 6am. His glasses were strewn across the pavement, along with his iPod and phone. (I found his headphones on the step as I was opening up, but thought he had merely dropped them on his way out.) She went on to tell me that he began to vomit profusely and that she had to wash it off the pavement, hence why there was little evidence of this left to be found.

Word got round to the hotel as Bruce walked in calling Andrew a "monkey" after being informed of the same when he awoke. And this is the thing about living in Ina - EVERYONE knows. Not that I should particularly care as it was not me passed out.

Andrew went to the mochi shop yesterday and the guy in there said: " It's okay, you're young. If you were an old man, that would be dangerous."

More later when I get my photos back - not of Andrew being sick, obviously - birthday photos, ne.

Oh, I'm having a private Japanese lesson on Monday. Quite nervous and excited, but I'm hoping it will unstick my mouth, which continues to have trouble when I'm trying to talk. I have the words, my brain and mouth just can't put them together when it's necessary.

And I have to set my keyboard to Japanese. Or get the Japanese option available...
blacklilly: (Default)
Oh damn you brain!

My second night of insomnia. Not really bad insomnia, just the inability to fall asleep for hours and hours. Lying in bed trying to empty my head of irritating thoughts, but more just kept popping in. I did eventually get to sleep, but have been staggering about this morning trying to get my eyes to work.

Strange dreams too, though not really memorable.

I had a wicked dream on Monday night though, and given I had been drinking red wine until 3am I'm amazed it was so vivid. I was at a party sitting on a square cream sofa with a table in the middle. People around me were talking to each other. A guy comes over and sits next to me. He has long dark curly hair and a top hat. It's Slash. (!). We start chatting like we've known each other for ages and I mention Velvet Revolver, but he's not happy with the band at the moment. Anyway, we carry on talking for a bit.

I wake up at the party later that night. It's dark and I need a wee so I walk through the dark room to find the toilet.* On the way I find Slash asleep. His feet are propped up on the table and his head and shoulders are on the ground, as though he's been leaning back in a chair, but the chair has been taken away.

I told Lucas at school this dream. He said:

"Normally when someone tells you they had a cool dream it isn't at all. But dreaming about Slash? That's cool."

The lovely Lucas finished yesterday and is heading off to Thailand for a month before heading home to Canada. A shame he was only with us so briefly as I enjoyed having someone to discuss literature with. We get a sub-teacher today for two weeks and then our new teacher arrives from the US on July 14th. I felt this was a good date, what with it being Bastille day, but then I couldn't figure out why... So school is almost functioning again. Sometime I'll tell you all the woes of being the only permanent member or staff at school, or maybe I won't. We just need a new manager (doing paperwork in Kanji is impossible for me) and the place might be up and running again.

Haircut at the weekend. Much needed. I even managed to book it in Japanese. And I wasn't drunk. Next week I'm teaching double-comparatives to my super-advanced student. I gave her an example on Tuesday night as a taster: "The more beer I drink, the better my Japanese becomes."


*It occured to me that if I was telling this story to Gideon he would start punning on Slash, and needing a slash.
blacklilly: (Default)
No, not really.

This is the shortest I've had the front of my hair since I had a fringe when I was 20.

My appointment went very well, and I'm pleased to say I managed part of it in Japanese. Go me.

Next, henna.
blacklilly: (Default)
There is little to say in English because my brain is whirring with Japanese and I seem to have lost my ability to think. So, Hana-chan says:

More... sometime in the next day or so.
blacklilly: (Default)
In English that translates as " Isn't it fucking cold?" or " Fucking cold, isn't it?"

I've left the apartment for the sum total of about 45 minutes today, excluding the ten minutes when I tried to do my recycling but found that someone had craftily padlocked the goram shed we're meant to put our detritus in. The more I think about it, the more just being a pikey and fly-tipping appeals. I have a pile of old futons about three feet high, and no idea what to do with them.

It's so cold in this apartment that my back hurts. I was trying to wait at least until a civilised time before going to hide in my bed from the cold, but I think I'm going to give up. It's 8.45pm. Sod it, I'm going to hide under the layers of blankets and fleece I've made a cocoon from.
The new place had better be warmer than this. I suspect it's actually warmer outside. The thought of sitting in one of the bars in Soap Street is looking more appealing the further up my legs the ice creeps. Alcoholism is preferable to hypothermia - at least the singing keeps you warm.

My eyes hurt. I think I've been staring at this machine for far too long.


blacklilly: (Default)

April 2011

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