Daily Journal of an Assistant Language Teacher / Automatic Language Tape Recorder (ALT) in the JET Programme living  and learning in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. More information on the JET Programme here and here.

Thursday May 1st

Nothing really to report, although I still seem to be typing. I think I have to have a chest x-ray for school today, but no one has told me about it. So I'll wait. Meg and I are in the process of setting up a website for our group of friends. Mainly for people to post what they are doing once they leave. Also for us to document all sorts of things like funny stories and interesting pictures. We always seem to forget the funny stories we tell at bars, so this website will let them remain alive for ever. Maybe people passed folk tales down through the generations hundreds of years ago using websites as well.

I had to write a letter asking someone to please be my guarantor on the apartment lease thing. The whole thing is stupid, requiring a guarantor when you only need one month's notice to move out. What does the guarantor guarantee? Why not make me pay another month's rent as a move out deposit? The whole landlord thing in Japan is a big money making scam.

Hard to believe I'll be in the US this time next week. I should be at our lake house in Alabama on Thursday, and then cruising on down to Natchez, Mississippi on Friday for the rehearsal dinner. It will be good to see the whole family, especially since I won't be able to get back for about a year.

Saturday May 3rd

I went to Adachi yesterday. I do like that school for the most part although there are things that annoy me. For instance, I firmly believe the "art of looking busy", is just a game they play. They run to the copy machine, run to the bathroom (maybe that's necessary), and run anywhere. All this running probably saves about 1 minute total at the end of the day. I never run, I just walk where I am going. They must think I am ultra lazy.

So I assume they all know it's a game and realize people aren't really as busy as they appear. Although sometimes they are actually busy, myself included. The part I hate is when people come to me and say "are you busy" and before I can respond they just start talking. I could be grading papers, typing something on the computer, or worse, eating. I have been interrupted countless times while I was mid-chew and someone starts jabbering away. If I am really hungry, I just take another bite, but most of the time I put it down.

OK, maybe they think it's important and they need to get something in real quick, on occasion I can dig that. But most of the time when they finish they start making idle chatter about nothing. I'm trying not to focus on on my half eaten whatever and looking at the time thinking, I have 5 minutes to finish this now so be quiet. This happens almost daily. Even students will interrupt teachers and the teachers actually stop eating to assist the students, even some little tiny trivial matter that could wait.

What might bother me more is the morbid curiosity they have. When I am reading email on my phone or the computer if anyone is around they will lean way over and obviously stick their face in there and say "oh what's this". It's called email, stop reading it. If I am reading a book at my desk, teachers and students will come up and lean over and sometimes flip the book over to see what it is. Then of course they feel compelled to start talking to me about it or something else. I'm going to find a place to eat and read where I can be undisturbed.

At Adachi I am going to co-teach the cooking class about a typical American breakfast. I suggested biscuits and scrambled eggs. The cooking teacher said a typical American breakfast might be scones and fruit.

A) I have no idea what a scone is.
B) I never eat "scones" and fruit for breakfast.
C) Have you actually eaten breakfast in the US?

So I'm not sure what we are going to be doing, but I keep having to write all sorts of stuff down for her and it's driving me crazy.

Your experience in the last cooking class will be put to practical use in this class.

Uh....I agree. (was that a question or statement?)

Can you elaborate more?

Not really, it's not a question that requires a big response. It's almost a yes/no question.

What is the theme of the next cooking class?

As I have already written 8 times, a Typical American Breakfast.

What will the menu be for the eggs and biscuit class?

Uh....eggs and biscuits?

What is the most important point you want to teach in this class?

Most important point? Hmm, different cultures maybe?

Can you elaborate more?

Uh...really?.....Well...Hmm.

@

So that will happen in June sometime. I won't be at Adachi for the next two weeks since I am going back to the US for about 10 days. At least I come back on a Saturday and have time to partially recover from Jet Lag before going back to school on Monday. Going there is going to be hell, because I am taking back my big old bulky suitcase packed full of gifts and stuff I don't use. But the suitcase if the big rectangle type with wheels on the bottom not on the side where you can tilt and roll it. So I have to find a way to get it from the apartment to the train, and from there it's minimal lifting, all the way to Atlanta. I'll have to go up some stairs at various stations, but a lot of time will be on trains. I think I can dump it once I get to the airport. In Atlanta the bag pick up is right by the exit where I'll get the folks to meet me.

There is so much I want/need to buy in the US, but only a handful of which I can afford. Definitely need more flip flops and shorts and some deodorant and personal items as such. I'd really like to get a computer but I don't know how I could afford that now. I might buy one of those super cheap DVD players and have American DVDs shipped over here. Then I could just take them back when/if I leave.

Well it's noon on Saturday and I have nothing to do, which is good because I need to save money. I have to pay for the shink or local train ticket to Tokyo and then the airport transfer ticket to the airport. All that adds about another $120 to the price. Whenever I go to Hawaii, there is a flight out of Sendai which would only cost about $30 to get to. As for now I need to go to the station and get a bite to eat and return an Elton John CD I rented a week (or two) ago.

Sunday May 4th

Well I'm pretty much over the pollen sickness. I'm no longer taking the hay fever medicine and I feel alright on average. I'm really glad too, because the last thing I needed was to have SARS like symptoms on a plane coming from Asia. Getting quarantined would not be on my list of "things that are convenient". Now I have to get over these canker sores. I drank a lot of orange juice, tomato juice, and fruit juice two weeks ago and the citrus caused them. Although the biscuit teacher from above said that's not the cause. I told her for the past 31 years I get canker sores 3 days after drinking citrus drinks. She said it has an unknown cause maybe stress. I said "ok", and dismissed her non-experience on the matter.

I went to a late show of X-Men2 yesterday. After 9pm the price is about half so I could afford it sorda. The movie was ok. I'm not a huge comic book fan and I really didn't like Spiderman, or Dick Tracy, but I do like X-men and the Superman series. When are we going to have a Wonder Twins movie?!?! Form of a huge gorilla that speaks English. Form of anything imaginable, as long as it's made of ice.

I've got a ton of stuff to do on the computer today, but unfortunately it's a secret. I'll reveal my plan to take over the world all in due time. Maybe next week or the week after. I think I can afford the Shinkansen down to Tokyo and then the nice Narita Express over to the airport. That will be about ichi-man ($100) or so maybe a little more. But I can get some money once I get back to the states, so it should be alright. Plus I get back here three days before payday. Although that paycheck is more or less spent the day I get it due to the new apartment. But starting in August, the new year, when the new people come in, I'll be in full money saving mode and hopefully able to participate in more activities.

Monday May 5th

Yesterday I worked on the computer all day and the finally had to get outside. So at 6 I decided to see another movie since it's considerably cheaper after 9pm. Before 9pm it's JPY1,700 or about $15 USD. I can't believe it's that much but it is. So I decide to see the 9pm show of Dream Catcher. I live about 3 minutes from the theater so I decide to wait until 7 and then ride my bike around town to kill time.

7 comes around and I leave. I decide to ride my bike through the mountain tunnel for the first time and maybe out to a store called SATY (which is not a Japanese word ironically). So I casually ride to the tunnel, and through it which was 710 meters long and dead straight, then past it. I see an electronics store so I go there and look around for a while. Finally I buy a cable to connect Meg's video camera to the VCR since she lost hers. Then I leave and start peddling, slowly, in the direction of the store. I make it to the bridge and then under the shink tracks, I can now see the store in the distance. I check my cell phone clock, that must have taken a good 45+ minutes. 12 MINUTES ?!?! Are you kidding me? All that took 12 minutes? Impossible.

So I get bored with Saty and casually turn around and go back. I get all the way through the tunnel on my side and then slowly, and non-chalantly, ride around town. I take the long way to the station and decide to eat at a noodles/curry place. I go in and order and my food comes after a while. I casually eat and the watch part of the baseball game on TV. Eventually in my own sweet time I leave. I ride around a bit more and then check my phone time again. All that only too 29 minutes. Wow. So I ride around some more, and check out my new apartment area and eventually make it over to the theater. Somehow I did 4 hours worth of stuff in an hour and a half. It was now 8:25. I give in and go to the theater and buy the ticket and wait. I just stand there and wait. Then at 15 til I go in the theater and wait. At one point I remember thinking about 10-15 minutes had passed and I checked my clock and only 2 minutes had passed.

I was clearly, in some kind of time slow down vacuum. It was insane. I could now waste time even if I wanted. For the record the movie did seem to go on forever. As I mentioned I saw Dream Catcher. It definitely falls into my weirdo freak-a-zoid movies of all time. I was actually a little disappointed because I felt it had the makings of three pretty good separate movies all squished into one. There a cool part about the aliens, a cool part about this guy Duddits, and a cool part about how they all had telepathy between each other. But it didn't really develop anything enough. The ending was just way out there bizarre. It was an "almost" movie IMHO.

After that I came back and didn't do much. Then I called my mom and chatted for a bit. We made plans about me being picked up at the airport and such. I fly into Houston and then after an hour or so shoot over to Atlanta. I guess I will go through International Customs in Houston. I should get in around 8pm Wednesday. I hope I can sleep a little on the plane. I'm even taking Meg's inflatable neck cushion and maybe her sleeping mask, I still doubt it will work, I can never get comfortable, and I always have this feeling of not supposed to be there. I can never get over the fact that a long metal tube was not intended to be shooting through the air 6 miles up.

Tuesday May 6th

I'm at Hobara today and the whole way here I felt like I shouldn't be here. You know back in school when you had a dentist appt during the day and your mom drove you there. Well I had to drive right by my schools and there was always this feeling that I wasn't supposed to be here. It's like that today. when I got here I almost wished they gave me the day off since it's student interview day and each class is shortened. On top of that I only go to one and I don't even think it's an actual class.

I barely slept a wink last night, I've been going crazy trying to make sure everything is ready for tomorrow. There are things I cannot forget, such as my Passport, and ticket information, and there are things I need to think about taking, and things I probably could wait on. Tomorrow is going to end up one of two different ways. A) I'm going to have trouble somewhere and be delayed and all the buffer time I built in wil be put to good use or B) things are going to run smoothly and I'll have 3 hours to kill somewhere. I should get to my station by 10am then to Tokyo station by noon then an hour to Narita airport, and that puts me there 2 hours ahead which is when I need to pick up my ticket. Things will run much smoother on the way back since I won't have this big bulky awkward suitcase.

I've been sending myself emails to remind me of the thousands of things I have to do while in the US. I've got things to buy, people to call, places to eat, and movies to see. We get movies about 6 months or more after they are in the US, plus they cost almost $15 here, so I'd like to see a few in the US before hand and much cheaper than here. I need to see something to make up for DreamCatcher. What a let down. It had the biggest weak plot point I've ever seen.

I call something a weak plot point when they do something flat out stupid to make the movie continue. For instance in DreamCatcher, there is a part where a monster in in the toilet and Jason Lee (who I like) was sitting on the toilet with the lid down, holding the monster in the toilet. Fair enough, but then he's got the toothpick fetish thing and happened to spill them all over the floor, but look there are two not in the blood, but slightly out of reach. So what does he do? He keeps reaching for them, although there is a monster in the toilet and by leaning his body weight is coming off the toilet. But no, these are important toothpicks. So finally he reaches and slips and out comes the monster. Not the slightest bit predictable, but yet completely stupid.

I nearly left during that scene, but there were many more. It's alright to have something way out there, like Superman being able to fly, and yet allergic to Kryptonite, but don't suddenly make him "not allergic" to the stuff just to make the plot flow. During most of the movie I was thinking, "why would you do that? Why would you say that? What are you doing that for?". It was like when I saw "The Pledge" with Jack Nicholson, just didn't make sense half the time. I want to see that new one with JN and Adam Sandler, maybe it will restore my faith in JN.

Oh they just said I have a second period class, but no idea what I am going to do. I'll go do that and then write more later if I have the time, or if anything of interest comes up. Heck even if it doesn't I might babble. It's very therapeutic, you should try it.

[Later]

I made it through Hobara rather painlessly. The day was ultra short for some reason, so I had 3-40 minute classes where I either did next to nothing or actually led the class. One teacher said I could do anything so I did. I can make stuff up on the fly pretty much. I've actually been working on a notebook full of activities and other spur of the moment things. I just write down little things occasionally so soon I'll have a big fat notebook with English trivia and activities and other things.

After Hobara I took a bus to Higashi to pick up a present for my cousin's wedding. I'll go into more detail later, in case for some reason he is taking a break from wedding plans and reading this, which I highly doubt. I know how bad last minute details are. Even though I've been planning this trip for weeks, so many little last minute things are popping up. Things I can't plan for or things that rely on other people and I can't get them to hurry. As far as I know I've got most everything planned and taken care of. Meg has a spare key and will come over tomorrow to take out my trash and pick up her video camera and a video tape of Scrubs and Friends. We are addicted to Scrubs, mainly JD the main character.

OK, I need to start shutting everything down and packing up the computer so this will be my last entry for about 48-72 hours. I might say hello when I get there. Or I might fall face down on the bed and sleep for 21 hours. I most likely won't be able to make an update until Sunday or Monday. I'll take pictures and maybe video of everything and upload them at the appropriate time. So for now, over and out.

Monday May 12th

I'll write more soon. The flight was fine, except the last 15 minutes. I had zero JET lag, the wedding was cool. I'm going to gain 10 pounds while I am here. My stomach is upset everyday because I am overeating greasy fried foods. Tomorrow I am meeting some people from my old job and eating Mexican food. Then driving to Winder Georgia to see my old buddy Chad who owns a Mellow Mushroom. I plan to see a movie this week, and I will be getting a fast new computer tomorrow I think. I'll write a complete update one of these days.

[later]

So let's see. Getting to the airport on Wednesday in Fukushima was not so fun. I had my rolling carry-on and my big rectangular suitcase from 1990 which did not allow tilt rolling like the newer ones do. So I packed everything and checked everything and turned everything off and then started on my way. I was pulling my carry-on and carrying my big bag. This was a nightmare. The big bag was so heavy. I couldn't roll it because it would fall over. I carried it about 500 feet and took a break, then 500 more. Then I stopped at the local post office and waited about 15 minutes for the international ATM to open. Finally it did and I took out some transportation money.

As I was leaving I had the postal clerk call a taxi. As usual, it came right away, almost before she hung up the phone. I loaded my bags and jumped in for the $6 ride. I still had to drag it up to the platform, but that was nothing in comparison. I bought a one way ticket and went up to the track. I had to wait about 30 minutes, but it worked out better because the next train was an express train which skipped about 4 stations. Normally it takes about 1.5 hours, but this trip was just over 1 hour. It's really strange zipping through stations.

I made it to Tokyo and had to drag the bag from hell through the station and then down to the Narita Express (NEX) platform. Narita is the name of Tokyo's airport. The ticket for that was about $27 and the shinkansen (bullet train) was about $81 or so. I could get there cheaper, but it takes all day and is really a hassle. On the NEX train I sat across from an American couple about age 27-30. We didn't chat for a while then the ticket guy came directly to him but asked no one else. I made a comment about why not me and then we all started talking. He was an artist from Tennessee and she was his girlfriend. A building was opening in Niigata and they sent him over to display some of his art. We chatted about everything and nothing for a while. They were a pleasant couple and made the hour trip fly by.

My ticket voucher said I had to go to terminal 2 to get my ticket. I go there and it was a massive hassle since my flight left from the other terminal. I get there only to learn my ticket was at the same terminal as my flight. So I take a free bus over there and get it and check in the heavy bag. I still had time so I wanted to eat somewhere and rest a bit. I was fortunate enough to get an exit seat with legroom. I flew Continental which was really cool. Each seat had their own tv and we could switch channels individually. It really rocked. I plan to fly them again. I found a cheap sushi place in the airport and ate there and then went on to the terminal. I passed through the security checkpoint, although it was called Hijacking Checkpoint. I thought that was an odd choice of words, but chose to say nothing.

I found my terminal and waited until boarding. The plane was a 777 and quite nice. I always feel weird as I board the plane, which I pass the door I touch the side of the plane and think "this will be 30,000 feet in the air in one hour". The stewardesses were nice, not super young, but I guess they were experienced. I was in the front of the second part of economy on the aisle corner. It was not the best seat since people and carts kept bumping me, but I did have leg room. I sat beside a military doctor who told me a lot about different things. One thing he mentioned was Ambien, a hardcore sleeping pill. He took it and zonked out for a good 7 hours in all sorts of funky positions. I had a doctor's appointment here for some other things, but had him prescribe me a few only for flights. I plan to zonk out on the flight back, which will be longer anyway since we are flying into the Jetstream.

Some people were saying they would be worried if the plane went down and they were asleep. Not me, I'd like to be zonked out and then wake up for about 30 seconds and say "oh, well darn". Then boom. Who would want to be awake when a plane is crashing. Plus most of my trip is over water. I have tons of things to do on the way back, but I need to sleep to balance out JET lag. I managed to beat it on the way here by drinking a Mountain Dew in Houston with my Taco Bell lunch. Speaking of which, my stomach has been torn up since I have been back. All this crappy food I eat and I overeat as well. But it reaffirms my diet when I get back. I will eat better and exercise. I've had many good comments on losing 26 pounds, but I really needto lose another 26, then I'll be happy.

So I made it back ok, although I flew through the worst tornadoes Georgia has ever seen, and it was a bumpy ride. Only the last 20 minutes, but it was scary. The skies were dark and the turbulence was heavy, but we survived. I'm serious, the worst tornadoes and thunderstorms in Georgia's history and it is the exact time I am landing. Maybe that was my scary flight experience.

The day after I got back we drove another 8 hours to Natchez, Mississippi to see my 2nd cousin's wedding. He married a beautiful girl named Suzannah and they had a great wedding and reception. It was at an old plantation and I took many pictures. I'll scan them and upload them soon. We stayed in the renovated slave quarters of a different plantation in the area. The whole town was a cotton farming town I think. Very historical and interesting, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm glad it corresponded with my trip back.

I have a new laptop which I am really proud of, I borrowed the money from my parents and will send them a Online Bill pay check each month. It's superfast and it was a display model which gave it a huge discount so I am really excited. I can't wait to see how fast my 12 Mbps DSL is with the new high speed computer, as opposed to my old 300 Mhz 160 RAM computer. Other than that I've been seeing as many people as possible and eating way too much. Tonight we ate at Ryan's Steak House (no relation) and I over ate and then had two bowls of banana pudding. Oh so good. I ate at Zaxby's twice and had Mexican food for lunch. I ate at Burger King yesterday and might eat there again tomorrow. I leave Friday at 7am. YUCK, but it was a cheap flight. Tomorrow I plan to see The Matrix and get some more stuff off Larry's computer. I've already got tons of CDs to take over there and this new pimpin' computer has a DVD player. I might check into a DVD writer later, when money levels out.

I went to Wal-Mart today and bought some needed things although most were strange. I bought those $10 rubber water boots. The kind I never thought I would need, but would be so useful in Japan during rain and snow season. Especially since I wear flip flops in the school and the boots to the school. Then we found some flops for $2.77. How ridiculous, but we bought 2 sets. I can use them at different schools and just leave them there. $2.77 man that's insane, especially since they would be $20 bucks and still too small over there. Then I got some deodorant and shaving cream and other things that are hard to find over there. I also got a portable CD player so now I can listen to CDs on the train and what not. What not, what a Southern phrase that is.

I ate lunch at the CNN center today with Cousar, Burnham, James Herdt. I don't know why but I've never called James just Herdt so that sounds wrong, but I always call Cousar and Burnham by their last names. Cousar reminds me of Cow Czar, same pronunciation. Tangent. Why is someone ON a team, but IN a club? End Tangent. Being here is really strange. I can't say I really like it. I'm not saying I don't like to come back and visit family and friends, but it feels like I never left. It's really hard to remember Japan and I am going back in a few days. It's like Japan was all a dream. It's bizarre and I don't know why it's like that. I wonder how I will feel when I get back to Japan. Maybe I will feel like this trip was all a dream. I'm glad I'm moving though, it will be good to have a change and start saving some money. I really want to travel more. Hiromi is moving to Australia in August for 6 months and I would really like to visit her and see Australia as well. Free place to stay. I'm sure she would have a job some where, but still it would be more convenient than getting a hotel room. Some people also talked about going to Hawaii or Las Vegas sometime. I'd love to take some Japanese people to Vegas and show them around. Vegas is such a dreamlike magical place.

Hey it's midnight and I am tired, I'm going to bed for a bit.

OK it's the next day now, Thursday evening. I just got back from seeing the Matrix - Reloaded. Wasn't as impressed as I expected. It was cool, but it was only part of a complete cycle, so we have to wait for the next one to get closure. That's kind of strange, and most everyone in the theater wasn't happy with it either. Before that I had a pedicure at the place my mother goes. Man it was nice having someone pamper my feet. When it was almost over she really rubbed my feet for a while and that felt great.

I'm packing today. Oddly I have more than I expected to have, even with the new big suitcase. I should be able to make it, but it will be tight and heavy. At least this bag rolls at an angle, unlike the last one. It shouldn't be a big deal getting it back to Fukushima, though I might have to take a taxi from the station to the apartment, which is only $6 and well worth it when you have a lot to carry. I have almost everything packed and ready to go. It will be nice to get back in my comfort zone, at least my permanent comfort zone. It feels a little strange getting comfy here. I could totally see how someone could come back for a visit and not want to go back.

Don't get me wrong I dig it over there, but this is my natural comfort zone, where I barely have to think. Over there I am always at 100% thinking about what someone is trying to say, or what this paper means, or what's next, or anything else. Here I can go to Wal-Mart and just explain what I am looking for and actually have the other person understand me. Over there I might have to put on a little show for them involving hand gestures and broken words. It's much easier here, but I am still on my path to my goal of learning Japanese and a new culture. So I can't quit until I reach my goal. I wouldn't mind coming back with a wife. I'm at that stage where I would like the comfort of marriage. More on that later, maybe.

I need to take some gifts back for some students and teachers. I think I will take some money for the English club at Higashi, some samples of each coin and maybe a $1 bill. It's odd how we say One Dollar, but type it as Dollar One $1. This keyboard has the home key where my old keyboard has the backspace key, so every time I make a mistake the cursor gets sent back to the home position. That will take a little getting used to. Supper time.

Friday May 16

I'm sitting in the International terminal of Houston's George Bush Sr. Airport, and I am exhausted. I didn't get any sleep last night and we left at 4am so I could get to the airport by 5am, good thing too, because you will never believe what happened.

I check in and then put my bag through the screener for checked baggage. They search it as always and wipe some tissue on the inside. Then they stick the tissue in a machine which starts beeping like crazy. He calls someone else over and they talk for a minute. Then the guy pulls me off to the side and says "I guess you know by now your bag tested positive for Military Grade Industrial Strength Explosives". I couldn't help but laugh in amazement. He asked me all sorts of questions and I said NO to everything. Finally I said, "look, I teach English in Japan, I have no idea why my bag would register ANYTHING related to explosives". He asked me some questions about Japan to see if I was lying and I guess I passed since the other guy said it was clear and they moved me along. WOW. I don't have any idea where that came from. Maybe someone bought the bag, and carried explosives and then returned it to Wal-mart. Man I hope I don't have this problem in the future.

The flight here was uneventful, but a little bumpy toward the end. It was almost empty, but I think the Tokyo flight is packed. I have an exit row seat, but in the middle, which means I have leg room, but two people beside me. I really don't care this time since I have a sleeping pill which should knock me out. It's actually a horse tranquillizer so I need to get someone to shoot it at me. Just kidding, it's a pill. This keyboard is really hard to type on since it is American style and I an used to typing on Japanese style. There are only a few differences such as the " marks above the 2 and the ' mark above the 7 and the @ doesn't require a shift key, but the biggest thing which you never see is the dad-gum HOME key and Backspace issue. I can learn to get over it, but ever mistake bumps the cursor back to GO, without me collecting $200.

There are already about 5 crying kids in the terminal. Please let them be on my flight sitting all around me. Actually I don't care because of the elephant tranquillizer mentioned above. I think it's called Ambien or the generic.

There are three Vietnamese people sitting beside me. I'm pretty sure it's Vietnamese. I need to learn a random sentence and practice it until it is perfectly natural. Something random like "Excuse me do you know where the bathrooms are". I'd love to learn something as bizarre as "this monkey is too heavy", but I would practice it so much that I might say it in my sleep. Which could be funny in it's own right. "I said what? you must be wrong, I don't speak any Vietnamese. Whatever, you are mistaken". Yea that would be funny. I once knew a guy that could say "Luke I am your father" in every language. Maybe my thing will be "This monkey is too heavy". You gotta have a thing.

Sunday May 18th

Wow do I have a lot to write. It's about 8:30 am Sunday morning and I FINALLY made it back. It was a massive hassle getting back this time, because I tried to save $10. I would have spent $50 to avoid this hassle, but at least now I know. I'll back track a bit.

We woke up Friday morning at 4am to leave, although I never really made it to sleep the whole night. I wasn't sleepy until 2 am and then I thought why bother. So we get up and I finish packing and say my good byes to my Mom and my dog, who just seemed to lie there not really caring (the dog). Then we drove an uneventful drive down to the Atlanta airport. I had to be there at 5am for a 7am flight and luckily I had plenty of time because when they checked my bag it registered for explosives as mentioned above. I was dumbfounded and could not comprehend why it would register. Anyway, I get on the flight and we land in Houston and then a few hours later I get on the Tokyo flight and we are off.

I sit on the front row exit seat again and there are two missionaries beside me going to some northern part of India. I am not kidding or exaggerating in any way, every single sentence out of their mouths the entire flight (to each other) was about preaching the gospel. Even sentences that I thought were going elsewhere, ended up the same way. To be honest toward the end it was like a Saturday Night Live skit, they said and I quote " I'm going to the blessed bathroom. - Go with Jesus". I almost started to laugh. If it were about anything else they would have been considered obsessive. Imagine talking about your pet dog in every sentence, every time. Eventually people would say "mention your dog again and I am kicking you in the face".

Of course I had about 3 crying babies around me the whole flight. The whole 13 hour flight. I had an exit row window seat, which means I had leg room out the wazoo, but I also had the pleasure of the bathroom right in front of me. So we take off and Continental Airlines provides each person with a personal TV where you can watch a variety of shows when you choose. I really dig that and plan to fly them again soon. So I turn on Daredevil and then when it finishes we eat our first meal.

My plan is simple. As soon as the first meal is over we will have about 7 hours until the next meal so I can take my industrial strength sleeping pill and be gone for a while. So I finish up, go to the bathroom and then come back and get comfy. I get the pillow and blanket and tune into the music channel. Then I take the pill. I keep getting ready. I put on the head phones and lean back, and take of my glasses and put on the sleep mask. I lean back and wait. I start getting relaxed. Oh yea, first it relaxes you into a coma, I love it. So then I feel a little tingly and know it's kicking in. I won't resist it, I'll assist it. I start to breathe slower and really find a good comfy 7 hour sleep position. I start fading out.

I feel really relaxed and at ease for about an hour then I realize I'm not going to sleep. Some pill. Didn't do crap other than slightly relax me for about an hour. Do I take another one? Has it not fully kicked in yet? Nope, I sit up and watch another movie. Then I watch Frasier, and Just Shoot Me, and CSI. Then I listen to CDs for a while. Then I read. I was going to read my book on the Dali Lama, but I didn't feel like getting a lecture on him. Then I try to sleep some more. Then it's 2 hours before landing.

At an hour before we start to eat, I always thought an hour and a half before would give us more time. Who knows. We have some good airline food though, I'll give them that. All the meals and snacks were quite tasty, I was thoroughly pleased with the food. The last meal was chicken and a roll and a nice desert or dessert.

Finally we land and exit (or disembark) the plane. We walk for a while, a long while, then we come to a shuttle that shuttles us to the other building. Then we go through immigration where they ask why we are in Japan. Then we find out luggage. Of course mine in very last, like 5 minutes after all of them are out. I was sure it was stuck in Atlanta because of that explosives scare. But there it is. So by now the Customs lines are huge. So I get in one only to realize it is for people with something to declare. Then I get in another and wait while they check each bag. The customs guy asks if I speak Japanese, and I say "sukoshi dake" only a little, and we proceed in Japanese, of course. He asks where I'm from and I say America and he asks why I'm here and I either say I teach English here or my favorite color is green, no blue. Either way he passes me along with no search.

By this time I have been awake nearly 40 hours and I am losing it. I can't remember Japanese. I keep seeing people I think I went to high school or elementary school with. So I wander around until I am out in the Arrival Lobby, this is where I would meet someone who came to visit me. No one came for me so I see about getting to Tokyo Station. There are a few ways, two stand out. Take the Narita express which I took to get here, for $25 or the Keisei local train for $10. Hey I'm all about being thrifty, so let's go Cheap. Errrrrr. WRONG.

I take this slow local train and it takes about an hour and a half to get to Ueno Station, but not even JR Ueno which is where the Shinkansens are, Keisei Ueno, which is a good mile from the JR station. JR means Japan Railways, the almost-monopoly which runs %99 of the trains in Japan, but are super convenient. So I get on this local train which means:

A) Several stops.
B) No reserved seats.
C) No where to put luggage.
D) Too many people.

So I stand for an hour and then finally get to sit for 2 stops. Then I get off and follow the crows and the signs to the JR station. My super huge bag doesn't fit through any of the turnstiles so I pull it sideways and make a big scene. Then I walk and walk until I find the JR station. Then I buy an $80 ticket to Fukushima and walk some more looking for the platform. Finally I find it and the next train is going to Morioka which is about a 4 hour trip. I ask the station guy and he says it does stop at Fukushima.

So I wait. Then I realize I am at the reserved end of the train and have to walk all the way to the far end. I make it and here comes the train. Oh look my car is full. Lovely, I get to stand for another hour or two. I get on and put my bag behind the seats of the last row and see one seat in the middle of two businessmen. I sit and zonk out for a while. I wake up and we are hauling butt and I figure I missed my stop.

I hadn't so I go between awake and asleep for a bit. Then more people get on and have to stand since there are no seats. There are a few older businessmen and a young woman. They glance at me as I waking up and I realize what is happening so I look like I am asleep and just adjusting. I turn my head and zonk out for a bit longer. Finally I wake myself up at Koriyama which is one stop down from me. When I hear the Welcome music I get up and get my bags and move to the lobby.

From here it's all boring. Although they did some massive remodeling in the station and I actually thought I was at the wrong place for a minute. The got rid of the fried place and McDonald's, or at least they are remodeling the store fronts. My sushi place was still there, but I didn't have the time or money to stop. I walked straight to a taxi and jumped in. I couldn't tell him where I lived, I was so strung out from the lack of sleep. I kept mispronouncing things and forgetting Japanese. Finally I just started pointing and made it back.

When I got into my apartment, it smelled like it did when I first moved in which really made the experience strange. I unpacked a few things and then jumped in bed. I think it was about 8pm or so, and I was tired. I watched part of an episode of Star Trek Voyager that Meg copied from her satellite TV. Before I knew it I was out and dreaming about some nonsense.

This morning I encountered quite the conundrum. To get my nice new computer to work with my online service, I need Japanese fonts. To get Japanese fonts I need to download them from online. You see my problem? To get the fonts I need to be online, to get online I need the fonts, but to get the fonts I need to be online, but to get online I need the fonts. A vicious cycle. So I fought with my old machine and rebooted it 6 times until the internet came back up. For some reason I thought it would be clever to hide my Network card somewhere in my apartment. I guess in case a network card criminal broke in it would delay him from finding it. Eventually I found it and thought "why the heck did I put it here?". Meg had a key so maybe she moved it. Yea, I'll go with that.

So I'll ask BJ if I can borrow his XP CD and maybe get the fonts off that, since my DSL CD requires me to follow some silly steps in Japanese to get online. I might just memorize them from this computer, but I'm sure something new will come up and I'll click "Format Everything", instead of "Install Internet".

Wow that was a big update. I am going to tinker with the other computer for a bit and try to get internet access again now that I know it works at least on this older one. Hopefully I can sell this computer when the new folks come.

[later]

I'm having a really strange time with the internet and the new computer. It has made a connection because I can check the properties and see the DCHP and IP but it won't actually connect to a website. This old computer takes about 5 reboots and then it works so later I will try that. I'm going to start uploading what I can to a website so when I get the other one up I can just download everything. I'm cooking my cheap lunch, two cups of rice and then soy sauce poured all over it. Oh look it's done. It's cheap and semi-tasty. I usually eat it when I am broke or don't want to leave the house.

I did manage to get the DVD player working on the new computer and so far I've played with my only two DVDs, The Cell and The Three Amigos. I didn't mean to watch the 3 Amigos, but I stuck in the DVD and it started playing and I was hooked. I'm watching the Cell now because it's only 11am. I think Michelle and BJ have tons of DVDs that I can borrow

[later]

Oops. I felt funky and put my head on the pillow for a few minutes and slept about 5 hours. I missed a party for a local foreigner who will be a JET next year. I'll have to make that up to her. I am really hungry now, but I don't feel like going out. I am still tired. Hopefully I can get over this tomorrow. I guess my body is paying me back for beating JET lag the other way in Atlanta.

Apparently I'm going to be awake for the next 10 hours. I just watched The Cell with the director's commentary over it and it was quite interesting. If you've seen it then you know the main girl that gets kidnapped and is trapped in the "cell" that fills with water. She told the director she was a lifeguard, but in reality she can't go underwater without holding her nose. He complained about that most of the film. It was interesting. The DVD player is working great so far, actually better than BJ's because mine will allow full screen whereas his won't. It will to an extent, but mine is much better. Which is not a good thing, because I don't want to take the laptop all over the place for movie night.

On a different note, an old friend emailed me and mentioned how strange it must be bouncing between cultures. Indeed it is strange, in another sense I love it. I like it because I am comfortable switching between two cultures. So if I ever need to move here or visit her again, I won't have the culture shock other people do. If I go back to the states to live, it will be fun coming back here and having no problems moving around the country. I'd really like to be comfortable like this in a few other countries as well. Maybe Thailand and Australia. I've got a friend in Thailand and I want to visit her soon. I'd probably better wait for the SARS thing to die down. There were tons of health security measures in Narita airport, which is most likely why there are about 7 cases of SARS in Japan and 3,500+ in China. We had to pass a heat detecting machine which checks for a fever. I passed.

The odd thing about switching between cultures is when I went back to the US I seemed to forget about Japan. I felt like I never left and slid right back into my old groove. I only rarely remembered I was only visiting. Even when people asked me what it's like, I felt like I was reading from a distant story. I didn't like that. Especially when I started thinking what I was going back to. It felt like someone else's life and not mine. When I got on the plane I started really wanting to get back and glad I was away from the US. I don't know what caused the switch.

I know part of it has to do with the basic service level difference between the two cultures. In the US I often felt like I was disturbing the clerk with my petty desire to buy something. Whereas in Japan I feel like I am a king just for buying a soda. I can see why everyone is angry in the US, it's because everyone is angry. Another vicious cycle. I'm going to create the perfect society and mix the best of both cultures. At least in my own head.

Monday May 19th@

I woke up on time and got ready and packed and made it to school on time. The whole way here I felt as if I've been gone for at least 6 months. It feels so much longer than one week. It was actually kinda reversed. When I got to the US I felt like I never left and Japan was just a faint dream. When I returned to Japan, I felt like I had been gone 6 months or more. I still feel like I am missing 6 months. I keep thinking, it's only been a week and two days, but it feels so much longer than that. Nothing feels right, or natural. I remember everything and everyone, but it all feels wrong. I can't explain it.

I just went over to the supermarket to eat at McDonald's. I haven't eaten since 7am Sunday so I was starving. As soon as I got to school Reiko (the cute secretary) gave me $60 for April's travel reimbursement. Every time I walk in the supermarket there's a mixture of smells that bombard me. They are all good, but the combination reminds me of lunchtime in Elementary school. I know that's an odd reference, but the smell is distinct. Every time I go there I remember my fifth grade year for some reason. It's very odd.

I got a letter in the mail stating I have been selected as an Alternate Tokyo Orientation Assistant. That's crap. I suggested I could present a seminar on Transportation in Japan, since last year they offered class about Pop Culture and Being a Female JET, but nothing on how to buy a bullet train ticket. Alternate my butt. Maybe it's because several 2nd years applied, that would be ok. I'll try to get down to orientation this summer anyway just to get out of the office.

I think I will be with the 2nd year students for a few weeks. Hiraki sensei told me about that. I already know them all since they were 1st years when I got here and I spent most of my time with them. I think I'll stay with them until summer and then be back with the 1st years. We have a cool bunch this year. I suppose they are equally as cool last year, but I came in half way so they were tainted with my predecessor's bad habits. He would always scold them when they referred to the US as America. Who cares dude, get over it. That's what Japan calls the US, A-me-ri-ka. If you insist on being anal, do so about something worth while. I mean really.

I think I am going to get some sushi tonight. Maybe that will make my sense of being here kick in. I need to save money since I have to pay something for the apartment this week and send money back, but I can splurge one day on sushi. It's going to be out of my way to eat at my favorite place once I move. That will be strange, but there are new places on the other side that are cheap and nice. There are actually more places on that side. I can walk under the tunnel on occasion to remember the good old times.

I'm really hyped about the move. I really hope I can save bookoodles of money. Did I spell that right? Bookoodles or Boocoodles? I really hope I can save A LOT of money. There. I should be able to. Rent will be cheaper, and utilities should be, especially since there is no place for the washing machine. I'll have to go downstairs to do laundry, which is fine, as long as it's cheaper. I might get rid of my phone and internet since my new computer is not working with it. I'd get a different type of internet though, maybe the wireless WAN, which is much slower, but I can walk around town with my laptop plugged in. Even on trains and at friends houses. Plus it's only $30 a month whereas my current setup is $30 for internet plus $40 for phone, plus $30 for long distance or something. The bill is always around $100 or more. I think as long as the wireless card is not excruciatingly slow, I might be able to try it. It would be far more convenient that having all the wires and cables all over my place, but man I really wanted to try 12 Mbps on my new 1.8 Ghz computer.

The really odd thing is it does recognize the connection to the internet and it has received the IP address and other info, but when I open a browser it times out and says DNS error. I don't get it. I'll stop typing here in a minute and surf the web for any clues. The oddest thing is my old Japanese Win98 computer connects fine, but my new state of the art WinXP (which takes care of everything) computer won't work. It should be the other way around. Once I get money straightened out I might get a DVD burner and start recording some DVDs of the area and whatever else I can think of.

OK, I am now typing nonsense and will take a break to surf the web to look for anything about getting my computer online.

It's one of those days where time just drags along. School let out at noon for some reason and that feels like 5 hours ago, but it's only 2pm and I have 2 more hours to go. I can leave at 4, but anything earlier is just obvious. Although luckily I have no coat to throw on so I could sneak out and maybe no one would know.

It's Monday which means I have no classes for some reason, so the day drags on. But today especially has just been really slow. I don't know why. I do know I need to get back and trim my hair since I cut it last night and I can see two big long flaps on the back that I missed somehow. I'm sure I look like an idiot from the back. I'm so frustrated today anyway. I have to deal with the new landlord tomorrow or Wednesday. I'm not used to the Japanese (SCAM) landlord and apartment (SCAM) renting system. All these silly fees and stuff. They wanted me to start renting on May 15th and I quickly said a flat out NO to that. I pushed them back to the 25th or 26th, which is plenty of time to move.

Although now Hiraki sensei is telling me stuff like the refrigerator can't be tilted when it's moved. I know one guy with a truck who might - MIGHT - help me out even though I barely know him and he's always busy. I might just tilt the thing anyway and see if that's true or if they were just told that. I've never heard of a fridge not being able to be tilted before. Who knows.

If not for the fact I would be saving money I would just cancel the move altogether. After I make the two balloon payments of SCAM money to the landlord, then I should start to see the savings. That's the only thing keeping me in this. I can't believe how silly the process is. I'd love to round up about 100 Japanese Landlords and ship them to America for a trip and then start charging them for everything. "Oh did you just use the letter [R]? Well that will cost you $50. Did you just ask why? That's another $25. Why don't you just give $100. It's called 'Just Give Me Money', yea you are just throwing it away, but it's our custom". I bet they'd get the hint after a while. But I bet Japanese landlords are rich though, maybe there are some hardcore fees I don't know about. I doubt it, the whole system here is like that. All it would take is everyone standing up and saying, "Nope not gonna pay it". Eventually the fees would go away. But Japanese are so non-confrontational that would never do that. Although the younger crowd is more bold and rebellious.

So I surfed the web for clues on my internet problem and there are tons of help pages on the issue. Since Yahoo!BB is a Japanese product, all the pages are in Japanese. Groovy. I'm just going to cancel the service and check into the wireless thing. I think it's considerably cheaper anyway. Considerably slower, but cheaper and that's the moral of the story for a while. Cheaper. Money sucks. Anyone who says there's more to life than money, has tons of it. No poor or broke people say that. Money makes the world go round, heck if I had enough money I could probably move the earth out of orbit. More to life than money, HA.

[later]

I just checked my web usage stats and saw some of the search engine words and phrases people used to get to my site, either on purpose or inadvertently. Here they are minus a few inappropriate ones:


fam mart
2003 only may guestbook of japan meaning printing company
american flag on flagpole .jpg
heath ledger's beliefs
kenneth cadena
teach english in fukushima japan
a picture of an earthquake rictor scale.
aaron salley
asakusa shrine japan
assemble-yourself bookshelf
atlanta free classes in sign lanuage
bare onsen japan boy
barefoot teacher in soma
beard papa pipin' hot cream puff
beard papa's
bill cosby picture page pen
bruce lee movie clips in return of the dragon


Not exactly sure how some of these lead them to me, but I guess they did. Those crazy search engines.

Tuesday May 20th

Wow. I just had the most amazing and yet confusing experience. I left school just after 3. I was so bored and just tired of being there and a little JET lagged so I left a note for Hiraki sensei and said I was leaving a tad early. No big deal really since A) I have no classes on Mondays (B) School let out early that day and (C) I was still JET lagged from my flight. So I ride home and chill for a bit. I had nothing really important to do so I decide to nap for a bit. It was only 3 something so I could sleep a few hours and eat dinner at SUSHI and then maybe rent a movie. So I lay down and quickly feel myself fading out.

I wake up a little later, in the same position I went to sleep in. I check the clock and it's just past 5:15. Wow I felt great, I really needed that little power nap. I check outside and it's still light but cloudy since it's raining. Nothing like waking up to the sound of gentle rain. I loiter around the apartment for a bit. I didn't quite feel like heading out in the rain, although I did bring some new rain boots that I am ultra excited to wear. I felt a little strange but I didn't know why. I just assumed it had something to do with the JET lag and not feeling right. Then I sat at the computer to check email and check the status of the virus program running. My dad said some emails from me were setting off his virus program. The specific virus that was being detected was the one you get by using Outlook Express and looking at porn sites. Well I actually don't look at porn sites, but I do use Outlook Express. Still I know what he's thinking. Anyway, I check the status and it says it did find a virus on an attachment from the travel agent, but there's something else of interest noted.

The virus scan took 2.5 hours to complete. That's not right, I went to sleep around 3:45-4:00pm and woke up an hour and 15 minutes later. There must be something wrong. I look outside again and start to realize what happened. I check the TV which always puts the time up in the corner of the screen......especially in the morning. OH MY GOD. It's 5:15 AM, I slept over 13 hours without moving or waking up. 13 hours? Wow, Jet lag is a real bugger eh? Japan is in a weird time zone so we can do business with China so it gets light here at about 4am. I know you don't believe be so I have a picture I took a while ago.

This picture was taken from my front door one morning at about 4:05 am. I knew the sun rose early, but I was never awake enough to get a picture, but one morning I just woke up suddenly at 4 and snapped a picture. It's so strange with the sun coming out this early. I remember being back in Tokyo in '98 and staying out all night and coming back from a club at 5am and the sun was out. There was something evil about being hung-over/drunk at 5am and the sun being out.

I'll go out and take a picture now and you'll see how bright it is at 5:35 am on Tuesday morning. Be right back. OK nix that idea I can't find the camera. It must be all packed up. I'll be up another morning I'm sure. But it's a little brighter than the above picture.

What's even more amazing is I've been back in Japan since Saturday around 5pm and all I've had to eat was two meals. I ate something Sunday morning when I woke up and then I had McDonald's at 10am Monday. I was planning on eating sushi Monday for dinner, but I slept clear through that. Amazing. I'm not really all that hungry. I'll get something at Hobara when I go there in about 2 hours. Geez, what am I going to do for 2 hours. I might watch a vide I brought from the US about building the new Hong Kong Airport which is on some manmade island or something. They had video of the old Hong Kong airport and huge 777 jets were flying right above skyscrapers since the airport was right in the middle of the city. That's amazing, and it was only one runway. HONG KONG had only one runway, Atlanta has four and about to expand to 5 I think. Insane. OK, I'll go do that and try to kill a few hours. 13 hours, man I can't believe that.

I made it to Hobara without any problem. Actually I had quite a good trip. While in the US I bought a cheap ($27) CD player. So today as I was leaving I saw it and brought it. I meant to pack a few different CDs but I forgot and only brought one. An old Atlanta band called Follow For Now. I used to watch them in college when they toured and I loved their style, but they got hooked up with an idiot manager who had them signed to some deal where they would never make any money. So the whole way here I listened to them and tuned everyone else out.

It was really a blast and everything is going to be different now. I always listen to music and for the past 10 months I haven't been able to whenever I am on a train or something. Now I can listen to CDs to and from Hobara and Adachi and anywhere else I go. Plus I can make my own CDs on my computer and I have tons of MP3s I've collected from various places.

Anyway, I get to Hobara and a teacher said he was surprised to see me. This always means one thing. There are no classes today because they are being tested. So he tells me to study Japanese by myself. Groovy. But later ther teacher who is actually my supervisor says that would be a huge waste of time and she can fit me into three classes. That's what I like to hear. I always feel so underutilized, but at least here they are trying to fit me in. She wants me to talk about my trip to America and the wedding ceremony. That should be no problem. I'll even look up the wedding terms so I can say them in Japanese.

I've got my favorite schedule today as well. 2nd, 4th, and 6th period. There is a break in between each one and even after lunch. It's 9:15 or so now. Maybe I'll eat sushi for dinner tonight, unless I fall asleep again. I've got to try to get back on a regular habit. Although the never being hungry thing is pretty cool.

I just taught a class on how different American weddings are. Man that was a flop. I could see them getting bored and I was even bored. I have to teach it two more times so I'd better smooth out the wrinkles. The most interesting part was when the teacher asked about if we threw rice and I explained about how the dry rice was killing birds because their stomachs were exploding. The kids liked that part.

I'm on this new kick now about replying incorrectly to people. Say for instance someone just emailed me and said "hope you trip went well, let me know when you have free time". So I replied, "that sounds great, see you then". It's vague and not really correct, so now they will be confused for a while. In the states I used to honk and wave vigorously at people on the street or even stick my head out and yell "hey man what's up!". The people would wave back and spend hours trying to figure out who I was. I should write a book on pranks and such. Hmmm.

I need to start a webpage with English questions that I cannot answer. I come across so many that I need help from people like you. I've already mentioned my current dilemma: Why can people be ON a team, but IN a club? There are others along the same lines. I'll work on a separate page and post them up there ands hopefully people can help me out.

Random Trivia: A duck's quack doesn't echo and no one knows why.

I have two more classes and in the mean time (why is it mean time?) I'll be making note cards out of a Japanese dictionary. There are so many words I come across that I wish I knew I just decided to start writing them all down.

Do you remember me mentioning a teacher here that is ultra-cute? Well she has gone from average, to ultra-cute, to WOWZERS. Man she is killing me. She doesn't speak much (any) English, but I still try to flirt when I can. Sometimes I don't talk at all just so she thinks I am thinking about other stuff when I am here. But I am always thinking about her. I should let it go since my Japanese is not up to par, and her English is not great (poor). But man, she did something with her hair and I tell you, she is insanely hot (very attractive). I'll try to get a picture somehow, maybe.

[later]

I just watched "The Ring". I just came out on video here and I rented it after eating sushi. Man I am freaked out, that was a scary movie and I even watched it during the day. Excluding the video tape that kills people part, it was a great movie. I think they should have worked on that part of the plot a little more. I also rented that thing with Ben Affleck and Samuel Jackson, about the lawyer and some file. I'll watch that now to make me forget about the ring. Later I plan to watch 16 hours of "Little House on the Prairie" all on DVD. My buddy Larry taped and then burned several episodes to DVD and brought them over. SWEET. I think Matlock is on there as well. I love it. OK  back to the other movie now.

Wednesday May 21st [PayDay]

My friend Meg from the US, a different one than previously mentioned in "said" journal, emailed me with an interesting point about the SCAM landlord system in Japan, the high cost of moving apartments is similar to closing costs in the US. Think about how much money you give the bank in interest over 15 or 30 years, but then they want another 2-5,000 up front. Same principle, but I'd mind less if I was buying a house or paying over 30 years. All I'm doing is renting. People need to start saying, "Sorry not going to pay", but that won't happen, heck I wouldn't even do it if I really wanted the house, or the apartment.

So I had freaky nightmares all last night about the stupid "Ring". The more I think about it, it was scary, but the whole videotape part of the movie didn't make much sense. Everything else was a really cool story and very suspenseful, but they never explained who made the strange video tape that kills people. My all time favorite is still "The Changeling" with George C Scott. It sounds like a monster movie, but the whole thing could almost actually happen. There are only a few little "could that happen" points, but it still scared me. The other one that ranks up there is "Salem's Lot" especially when the kid is floating outside the 2nd story window or when he sits up in the coffin. Argh, I'm all freaked out now. At least it's morning and I have all day to forget about it, or fester on it. Poltergeist freaked me out as a kid, but now it's almost cheesy. I slept on the floor in my parents room for a week after that. I mean they had scenes with a little kid looking under his bed and something attacking him. I already had a "under the bed" thing, so that was the icing on the cake.

I still can't get my new fast computer to work with my internet connection. That's really bugging me since it actually connects and gets the connection info, but won't allow me to surf. Some stupid little link or setting to change. Something like "allow me to actually surf the web click here". I'll keep playing, What's worse, when I unplug this computer it takes about 5 reboots to get it going again. I've tried rebooting the new one equally as many, but no luck.

My sister and mom just emailed me a dozen times and told me one of my sister's friends just got engaged to one of my old friends. No telling when the wedding is, hopefully in a year or more. Maybe I can go back to visit and see the wedding, but I don't know. Weddings are perfect to go back for since you get to see dozens of family or friends at the same time. Like mini reunions. His wedding would be all sorts of people I didn't hang out with in high school. He and I were good friends up through high school, but then he developed into a great football player, and well I did not. Heck I wouldn't have hung out with me either, but he at least acknowledge me in the hall. I was the total dork and he was the star linebacker or something, maybe a running back, I forget. They met because her neighbor put them on a blind date or something. I'm glad it worked out, they are both really nice and should be happy forever. I have no idea what either of them do for a living.

It's 7:15am and I woke up way too early, partially because of JET lag and partially because of watching "The Ring" yesterday. I really don't want to go to school today because A) There's no class so I'll just sit there and study Japanese or surf the web and have nothing to do and B) because I have to go deal with the landlord who never seems to remember what we agreed the meeting before. Last time he gave me the lease with $400 a month on it and I said "Oh yea didn't we agree on $380". Oops. What's even more aggravating is when I have to pay these fees that are "1 month's rent", he is charging me rent + the elevator fee. I don't think the elevator fee should count as my 1 Month Rent fee. But now the rent is lower and the fee is mixed in so who knows. It's still a savings after 3 months. I calculated it yesterday and I might actually be able to send back double the amount which the new lowered rent. Which means I can pay off part of my bills early and then take that money and divert it to the other bills and eventually pay them all off. WOO HOO. I'll recalculate that at school today. Alright time to get ready.

I've found myself in quite the conundrum. I believe that is the right word for this. Although I think I am saying it because the little kid in "The Ring" said it and it was quite funny. But I too have found myself in a conundrum. Let me explain:

I am learning Japanese as you know. It's a big reason for me being here. When one learns a foreign language, one exceeds by speaking said language as much as possible. Still following? So I am learning Japanese and whenever I can I try to speak Japanese. When I hear myself speaking it sounds pretty cool. HOWEVER, I have found I absolutely HATE, utterly loathe, completely despise, have much disdain for...foreigners trying to speak Japanese.

I guess you can see the conundrum I am in. It's almost as bad a vicious cycle as the new computer and the Japanese fonts / internet issue. I don't know why I hate hearing other people speak Japanese, but it drives me up the wall. Even people that are nearly fluent, it still bugs me. But no problems when I slaughter the language and say the exact opposite (BTW I said a new goof-up, but I can't remember it now). So that's my conundrum.

[later]

Earlier I heard an announcement that all 3rd years can now enter the gym, so I learned we are having some function in the gym and that's where all the teachers are. Someone could have mentioned that before. I go in and everyone is seated about 20 yards away from the stage, I didn't know why so I lean against the wall and watch.

Apparently it was a pep rally, though it was neither peppy nor rallying. The students sat in the middle of the gym and then as the band played some students, in clubs I assumed, walked past them as they clapped. I saw the soccer team, volleyball team, baseball team, and then the mountain climbing team. I learned later this "pep rally" was for the clubs that have a regional event coming up. Then I thought, how can the mountain climbing club have any even where you compete. How do you compete in the mountain climbing club? DO you race to the top? Do you climb a certain way? They don't even do the rope climbing, they should be called the "casually walking up slight inclines" club.

Don't get me wrong I like the club, there are some really cool kids in the club, but I don't see how they compete. It's not a team oriented event really. They just go and walk and explore.

The whole atmosphere was more of "you will do good" than a normal pep rally. At my high school the football team came out and people said stuff and we cheered and said we are going to kick so-and-so's butt and more cheering and cheerleaders and the team ran through a banner that said something like "let's kick so-and-so's butt!". But here this group of guys came out and did their samurai like cheers and grunts and I could partially understand what they were saying. It was more or less what a samurai lord would say to his clan before a fight. I guess that's what it takes here.

I'm not sure what the group of guys do that are in charge of this, but every time time they have an event like this they come out looking all mad and disappointed and yell at everyone and make the students do this bizarre clapping routine. Then they leave looking equally as sad and disappointed. I try not to laugh because it's so silly watching them. No one is going to get tortured or beaten, but their looks sure make it seem so.

I think I go and pay the landlord guy tomorrow. I worked out some financial scenarios and I think I can send back double what I am now which means I can double up on one bill and pay it down much sooner. I predicted 10 months of double payments, but there is interest involved which might reduce it even more if I am making double payments. Either way, I'm on my way to having money to spare and travel with.

Thursday May 22nd

You know how I say life is like a rollercoaster, some days you are up and some days you are down and others are in between days? Well this week has been one of those small fast quick roller coasters with a bunch of up and down hills. Yesterday was great, Hiraki sensei said the grounds-man arranged for someone to pick up some big things from my apartment and bring them to the school. Great, one less thing to worry about, then she said a few other things are falling into place. Perfect.

Today she left a note (in great English) on my desk that said apparently rent is paid on the 21st for that month so I owe rent for this month. That's very bad. For a few reasons, one is I flat out don't have it. I have to give the new Scamlord a ton of money for half of my move in expenses. If I have to pay rent then I can only pay him 1/3 of the expenses. I don't know if he'll like that, even though he agreed to it initially weeks ago.

Second reason is I think I have already paid. When I got here they said they added August's rent to that jip-loan to my predecessor for some things that I apparently didn't have to pay for and and overcharge for the phone. So if I paid August rent and then on August 21st I paid again (for September I thought) then I should be paid up a month in advance. Or I double paid August rent? Either way I'm not happy. I really wish I could backtrack and get out of this moving thing, or go with the other place that would only be $600 to move in. This has become a nightmare. Luckily Hiraki sensei is dealing with most of it and is still very nice about it. I thank her repeatedly and write her thank you notes all the time. I told her I will take her and her husband out to eat and drink as soon as I can afford it (2006 maybe).

So I wrote her a note explaining my situation and asking her to check with the grounds-man guy about August 21st. The moral of this story is KEEP RECEIPTS. If I kept all these old receipts I could whip it out and say "BOOYA" already paid.

That reminds me of a nice story from my college days. One month I paid the cable bill in cash and check. It was for two months I think. Well they give me a receipt and I go on my way. Then they send me a letter saying I didn't pay, they only show the check as being paid, no record of the cash. Of course I am an immature college student who lost the receipt. So I go down there and ask them to check their receipt book and they say they can't they are too busy. All they had to do was check the carbon copy of the receipt book on the date I paid and they would see the "error". They won't and they keep saying, as if to prove a point, "if you only had the receipt...".

So I go home and tell my roommates the situation and of course they don't believe me. They think I took the cash and spent it on something. I wouldn't believe the story either. So I tear my room apart looking for the receipt and can't find it. Great whatever I should keep receipts and organize things better, but I hate clutter. I hate having files and papers that I never use. I hate clutter.

But then....I find it. I take it down there and they quickly make the change and credit my account. I show my roommates and they are relieved and all suspicion is gone. I never realized what actually happened or what I should have done. I remember leaving before I got the receipt because I was in a hurry and she called me back. So I hastily grabbed it and shoved it in my pocket. She must have sensed I would throw it away and pocketed the cash, but credited the check. I just never thought that would or could happen at a public company.

So what I should have done to cause a stink and teach THEM a lesson is go to the cable company and ask for the manager. Then explain the situation. See what he has to say. If the only thing he says is "we'll credit the account", then I should have say sorry not good enough and gone to the police. I should have filed an actual complaint against the cable company charging them with theft and have the police pursue it, or at least act like it (the police like college students as much as the cable company did). But if I filed an actual complaint then I would have leverage. I don't know what would have happened, if they would arrest someone or if anything would come about, but I should have given them a dose of their own medicine.

That's my receipt story and ironically, I still haven't learned to keep receipts. I figure if there is a problem with me paying rent then it would have been settled by now. I never thought this would come up. But I am certain I paid on the 21st of August, because I don't remember not paying at anytime. Although August is still a blur since I had just moved here and everything was new (and blistering hot). Since you are all on the edge of your seats hitting refresh to see if there is an update, I'll let you know something as soon as I know more.

[later]

Still waiting to hear on the rent thing, although Hiraki sense did say the grounds-man guy is checking into it. But a side note: I was on the teacher's room balcony watching the kids run around in the sports field. One kid waved and I waved back. Then he giggled and turned to his friend and they both waved. I waved again. Then they yelled "what are you eating". So I held up my raw carrot. They laughed in amazement and ran over to the group. Word spread fast because they yelled again and wanted to see. Soon about 100 boys were pointing in amazement that the foreigner eats raw vegetables.

I've mentioned this previously, but it still amazes me. The people in the country that eat raw fish, eat raw fish while it's still alive look at the bottom for "Ikezukuri", they eat raw sushi off the naked body of a young girl (no pictures available), blowfish which if prepared slightly wrong kills you instantly, and they even eat raw horse, but yet they find raw carrots absolutely amazing. That completely and totally baffles all my logic.

[later]

Good news, which I expected. They said I did double pay in August and don't have to pay today. It made the new grounds-man guy look bad, but I don't care, no way I could afford an additional $500 added into the already overflowing scam stew.

More good news. I am at 96 Kilos, which is about 211 pounds. My goal was 88 kilos, but that's only 8 kilos away which is about 20 more pounds, and I don't think that will be thin enough. I'll do a reassessment at 88 K but might change it to 85 K. My ideal body weight is between 179 and 195 pounds. There's one chart that shows it could be between 166 and 188 pounds, which is just silly. I can't weigh 166 pounds. That's nothing for my 6 foot 2 frame. So for now I am going to shoot for 88K and then maybe 85K.

[later yet]

We went to the landlord's place and filled out the forms and I paid the money. It wasn't as painful as I thought. Next month I only have to pay an extra $500 over rent, which is really only $200 more than I've been paying thanks to that stupid loan. I got the key so I can start moving in Sunday. I don't have many boxes either (as well I shouldn't) so there will only be a few big things that will be a hassle. BJ just called and wants me to come out and watch a movie, which I will try to do if I can get some packing done.

Saturday May 24th

Man I typed this whole long thing at Adachi and the stupid computer wouldn't save it. Argh. I'll re-type it I guess. Yesterday I went to Adachi. things are much smoother there since Mr. H is gone. I actually really like the other teachers and the students seem happier. I had three classes but I went into another one for a while. The young (cute) Yamashita sensei came and asked if I could go there for a while since the students were begging her to see if I was free.

When am I ever going to be in a situation where people are begging someone to see if I can come visit? "Hey Ryan the accounting department is really bugging me to see if you can come visit, then the Shipping department wants to see you as well". So I am eating it up while I am here. I know I am really fortunate to be able to live in Japan for a few years. I hope this is a stepping stone to other life adventures and not the peak of my life, but even if it were it's a pretty cool peak.

So during lunch a really cute student in one of my classes came and asked if I could stay after school and meet with the English club. NO I have to go back to my apartment and sit on my butt. Of course I went. How silly that would be and a complete waste of resources not to go. They are actually more active than my base school's club. we met for an hour and a half. I talked about things, some students asked me good and silly questions. I told them I would bring some cool stuff next time.

There is this one girl that really confused me. I've been in another class last year where she was and she would laugh all the time and at wrong times and I concluded then she...was special or had something wrong in some manner. No big deal, just the way I classified her in my mind. Well she was in the English club and half the time she acted perfectly normal, and only on occasion was she hyperactive. It just confused me to have civilized conversations with her.

So I left and walked to the station and caught the 5:30-something. As I was getting on I saw Noriko. Do you remember her from back in September or October? She's still cute as a button and still dating that wanker from Tokyo. He might not be a wanker, but he's not me so there you go. We chatted the whole time and she said she was going to Fukushima to study for the TOEIC test. Which is the Test Of English and something that starts with IC maybe International Communication. She said her last score was 755 and she needs to get over 800. She must not test well because her English is so smooth. I never have trouble talking to her. One time we taught her the "bom chicka bom bom" the sound you make to imply sex. Like when people say "Come over to my place and we can chat", then you say "bom chika bom bom" and they say "no not like that". Anyway she picked it up fast and used it correctly about two other times that night, back in October. Plus she got a few upper level jokes.

Then we separated and I came back only to sit for about 20 minutes then go right back out to Karin and Darwin's dinner party at this place for her sister and brother in-law. It was an all you can drink and I really had planned not to drink for the evening. Then a beer was in front of me so I drank it. That happened a few times. Then BJ bought some sake (apparently I have him hooked) and there was a glass in front of me. So I ended up drinking far more than I had planned, which was nothing. It was fun talking to her sister and brother in-law. He is a pharmacist and we chatted about my opinions on various pharmaceuticals. Then we left and they went to karaoke which I am not fond of, so BJ and I and Corrinn went to the original Shoya and he had more sake and we all had edamame and some other stuff. I had more raw horse. Yummy.

Then I came home a realized it was the last Friday night I would be riding my bike to this current apartment. I was sad for a moment. But the thought of saving money and then having money to travel with here is nice. Then I fell asleep and woke up at 6 again. I could sleep all morning, but I wake up at 6. Great. It's 7:30 now. I'll start packing again. Continue packing I should say.

[later]

Duh, I forgot half the reason for the journal entry today. Thursday at Higashi I got really bored and decided to walk around the sports field a few times. I would say it's about 4 football fields big. So I walked around it once not really paying attention to anything. Then the second time I noticed some rusty weights and weight benches out around the path. So I stopped and worked out at a few. They were actually evenly placed so I would walk a little and then bench press and then walk and then do shoulder presses and then walk then bicep curls. It was a great workout and I felt wired after it. My muscles are still sore, but it feels good. So then I realized I could do this three times a week and that will really help me get in shape. WOO HOO.

OK, enough of that. Earlier I spent a while packing everything in boxes and I really don't have all that much stuff. I think maybe two car loads plus a truck load for the bed and skis and fridge, but for the most part it should be an easy move. I plan to take some pictures for my Fukushima picture page I'm working on since a few new Fukushima JETs have already emailed me. I might as well show them around before they get here. OK, back to whatever.

[later]

I took some pictures and upload them as the above link is now functional. It's 8pm now and I am bored and a little depressed. I'm not sure why. I think I will go to BOM and rent a movie or two. Maybe an old James Bond with Sean Connery, they always cheer me up. Nothing scary or sad though. I've been reading my friend's journal all day and it's so funny. I lost the link so I'll include it later. She lives in a small town nearby, like real small, Nihonmatsu actually. I go there every Friday to get to Adachi. OK, I'm going now, I'll tell you what I rented when I return.

I rented Mr Deeds and something with Brad Pitt and Robert Redford. I had already seen Mr. Deeds, but didn't realize it until halfway through the movie. Earlier I went over to the new apartment to check it out. It's small, which I want, and right on the tracks. As I was in it a train went by which wasn't too loud, but the crossing gate alarm was a little loud. Not so bad with the windows closed and earplugs and two pillows on my head. No, just the windows closed and it wasn't so bad. The building itself seems old, but the apartment is new inside and so close to everything.

I'm really afraid this might be a "greener grass on the other side" venture. Will I get in it and still not be happy? Am I unplease-able? I don't know, but I do know my first priority is saving money to send back and pay off my debts. How easy life would be if I were a middle school JET with no rent and a pimp apartment in the middle of town. But then I couldn't live in Almostville as I do. That's where I get almost a good deal, just enough so that it seems a good deal but then there are little "things" keeping it from being great. Maybe it's all in my head, I don't know, but it has always bugged me. I get the opportunity to study in Japan, BUT I have to pay rent and can't travel like many others do...Such is life.

Tuesday May 27th

I'm almost completely moved out and it feels great. I have the fridge, my bed, about one small box worth of misc stuff and I will be finished. Unfortunately the bed and fridge are going to be buggers. Yesterday BJ, Corrinn, and Dave helped. Corrinn took a train out to BJ's and then drove them and his car out here. BJ has no J-license yet. We made about 4 trips and got most everything.

After the first trip (which we used the elevator for) there was a massive, and I mean massive earthquake. We were inside the new apartment and felt it moving and ran outside to see. I could actually see several big buildings in the area moving abck and forth. It was a trip. It lasted a good 2 minutes and then things were still swaying. Later we learned it was one of the biggest in about 10 years a 5 on the rictor and a 7 on Japan's version of the rictor scale. The bad news is it stopped the elevator from working the rest of the night. Oddly, all the other elevators in the area seemed to work fine, just not the one I needed.

Finally after a number of trips, in which I did all the whining they were all very non-whiny about it, we were finished for the night. Especially Dave, he didn't mind the stairs at all, even up to the 4th floor. I failed to mention stairs are my evil arch enemy. Anyway, finally we went to Kappa Sushi, which is pretty decent sushi and only $1 a plate, and there are two on a plate. I bought them all sushi since they helped me so much. It would have taken me about 100 trips back and forth carrying one box or something. That would have gotten really old.

A teacher just handed me a book to use and I was blown away. It's the students textbook, but it says FOR ALT. Which means it's all in English, so now I can actually read the instructions and tidbits in the book. I wonder if the other books I use at the other schools come with this as well. I'm going to further push the issue.

Last night I slept at my old place and when I woke up I realized all my tolietries minus bathing things are at my new place. I think the gas won't be turned on until Wednesday so I can't take a shower at the new place yet. But one good thing is, of course you won't care about this at all, is I had glued a mirror in the old bathroom to shave with, when I decided to move I realized it had to come off and most likely wouldn't. But it popped right off and the glue peeled right off as well. I was so happy. The new place has an RV type bathroom with the toilet, sink, and shower in the same room. There is a curtain that separates the tub/shower and the toilet/sink, but the whole room is designed to get wet if needed. The tub is actually bigger than my old place, but I don't take tub-baths, only showers. I go to the sento if I want to take a bath (with 50 people I don't know).

Sentos (public bath) are strange. I mean when I go with my friends we all get naked together and then shower together and then soak in the hot tub together, naked of course. But if someone were to walk around naked at home we'd all freak out. Or leave the shower door open. Strange how that works. Not a problem, I have no dreams of walking around the place naked, just interesting.

So far they have told me I have two classes today. Both involve self introductions and one involves a lesson, the other a game. I'll do the "Hello how are you" game. That's where I ask them how they are, while they are standing, and if they say something other than "I'm fine thanks how are you" they can sit down. Actually their entire row can sit down. It seems easy, but it involves Japanese students talking in class which is always painful. Once they realize they can sit down then it speeds up a bit. I've got other games to play, but this is the quickest and involves little preparation.

Oh I found out there will be one American coming to Fukushima city and guess where he is from? GEORGIA, yee haw. The South will take Japan. Ok so there is only two of us, but soon we can recruite more. I think all the others are Canadians and Brits. I haven't got the names and numbers yet. I was thinking of making a chart with all the kanji of the city names in Fukushima ken for them. That would have been helpful last year, but oh well. OK, off to class.

Wednesday May 28th

There is one teacher who always has the same pattern somewhere around her. It's a beige plaid pattern, and she has pants, shirts, jackets, purses, socks, towels, notebooks, seat covers, and probably underwear in this pattern. There is liking a pattern or style and then there is wearing it EVERY SINGLE DAY. I'm not exaggerating in the least. I don't really want to take pictures of her, because someone might see it and recognize it, but it's really bizarre. Every single day there is some prominent exposure of this pattern, which in my opinion is not really all that great anyway. I might make a chart of what she has related to this pattern and post it each day.

I asked Emiko (the girl with the gorgeous face) to help me move a little more and she hasn't written back, I wouldn't be surprised at all if she didn't or if she claimed to be busy. Helping people move really sucks, and she was really helpful. I might have to carry each thing over by hand, but it's only a few things and only about 2 miles.

Dave, who helped me move Monday night, wanted to know if I wanted to go mountain biking with him. As fun as that sounds, I told him my athletic ability, might not be equal to his, or might just be non-existent. He has tons more energy than me and complains a lot less. When the elevator broke he didn't mind the stairs, whereas I HATE stairs. For the record, I went back to the apartment building after sushi to get my bike, and the elevator worked fine. As soon as we didn't need it, it started working. Welcome to Ryan's world.

No classes again today. For some reason, they aren't ready for me. So I sit and either type on this or walk around the track or study Japanese. I might go to the store later and just loiter. Since there is nothing else to do here.

I went to the new place after Hobara yesterday and got most everything moved into it's place. I still have a bit more to move around, but I already have plenty of room. I need to get more snap together shelves from Muji, but then I will be set. I need a couch soon as well. I've got to find somewhere to put the table and chairs, specifically the chairs. The table can go under the bed, but there is no place for the chairs. Maybe in the closet. Almost lunchtime here.

here are 10 random words:

buttermilk, lapdog, dangle, transcendental, shuffle.

excommunicated, fibrous, gaggle, debit, bag.

These words have been approved for all audiences.

I bought more bananas today. I really don't know how this lady makes any money. Look at all these banana's I bought for 175 yen which is about $1.46 or so.



Where is the profit in that? She had to buy them from somewhere which had to mark up the price, maybe she bought them for 100 yen. Then they have to buy them from the shipper and grower. It has to cost more than that to simply pick them. Plus there are 5 bananas so that's like 20 yen each or 13 cents each. What is the point in .13 cents. Then again I bought them and ate them, and I guess if enough people spend .13 cents it will add up. It's just crazy man, crazy.

At one point I hated my predecessor because he would leave for hours at a time and the school hated that and for a while I would catch the ripple effect because of him. What a run-on sentence. Anyway, I can now understand why he did that. It has been about 3 weeks since I have taught a class at Higashi. I show up at 8am and leave at 4:15 and just sit in the teachers room surfing, typing, or learning Japanese. My predecessor didn't want to learn Japanese and had no journal like this so that leaves surfing (which gets old) and they had ultra slow computers back then. So I can actually somewhat understand why he did that. Plus he had a close friend who lived not 200 yards from my school. Maybe I'll get a close friend when the new jets get here and I can eat lunch or take naps there like he did. I wonder if this computer has solitaire.

Thursday May 29th

I'm staying the night in the new place. Meg made it back from her 10 day trip showing her Mom around Kyoto and Tokyo and Osaka today and then she helped me move a load over. We just grabbed a handful and walked over. Later I walked back and brought over another box. There's a few more things and I think I can get all but the bed frame and fridge tomorrow.

The bed frame is really ticking me off. It's just a wood frame that snapped together and then was screwed in, or so I thought. I tried to break it down, but nope. It's permanent. Who makes a permanent, unbreakdownable bed frame, especially in an apartment. Really what is the logic behind this. I want to put the bed frame designer and the person in charge of closing ATMs at 9pm in a room and start kicking them. Stupid stupid.

On a lighter note, I was thirsty minutes ago so I walked down (well took the elevator) and then walked about 20-30 feet across the street to the CC Lemon machine. Oh man I love this drink and hypothetically, it's good for you. It says it has the Vitamin C of 70 lemons. It's a sweet lemony slightly carbonated drink. I love it more than Pocari Sweat.

I'm pretty sure I am just cutting the phone off all together. I'll lose internet access from home, but I am tired of dealing with the phone company, plus the only reason I have the phone line is for internet, which means my internet connection actually costs around $70-80 a month, so that makes it not quite worth it. Plus whenever I make one single long distance call the LD bill is $40 somehow. I am just sick of dealing with them altogether. The current issue is they said I haven't paid since March. They are right, I haven't because as far as I knew they were taking the money out of my account. They said there was a problem. We replied, did you tell anyone? They replied, No. Argh. I swear to you if I were the Hulk I would have erupted and torn up their office. Japanese society is truly an interesting place. They are advanced beyond us in many aspects, but then decades behind us in others.

I told Hiraki sensei I would take her and her husband out to dinner one night since they have been so helpful with the moving process. Especially Hiraki sensei, she has really made calls and appointments for me and been the liason between many situations and she never complains, she always seems happy to do it. I'm going to not cause any problems for a few months, although I know there is going to be headbutting in August when I try to get out of just sitting in the office doing nothing.

So far I really dig the apartment. It's cozy (small), but cheap and very convenient. It's got a nice night view, well I can see another building, but there are no lights shining in my windown. So far the neighbors are quiet (the single mom with the kid crying all night must be out of town for the week), and I really like the way it's shaped. I can lie on the bed (or where the bed should go) and easily see the TV. The closet is actually better than my old one. The floor is not tatami, but a faux-hardwood. Most of all the air conditioner is pointing directly into the room. There's even a curtain hanger between the door and the room, so I don't have to heat/cool the kitchenette area and bathroom, not that it is much bigger. I've got a window cracked and the little fan blowing in and it feels great.

I'll see how long I can do that. I really want to try to live as thriftily as possible. I've been working on an excel spreadsheet of my expenses and I want to really find my big wasteful expenses and get rid of them. I want to divert all monies to paying off bills. Then I will be a happy camper. I'venoticed a bad trend recently. Everytime I eat sushi, my stomach is upset for a few hours. Maybe I overeat, I really hope that's it, because I love sushi. I will be so displeased if I have to stop eating sushi all together. I've already cut out most everything that makes me happy. My butt is asleep from sitting so I'll type more later.

I just went to save this file to a floppy and realized, as with many new laptops, they axed the FD drive to make it lighter and save space. I have to burn a CD for a 1K file. Not wasteful, nope not one bit. On a side note, I slept alright at the new place. The constant barrage of trains is something I have to get used to. The do stop at a certain hour and then restart early, but when they start it's as if they were backed up and waiting, there are like 50 at a time nearly. Granted I had the window open, and maybein the peak part of summer I won't and definitely in winter I won't but for the spring it's a bit loud. I guess I could wear ear plugs and then earmuffs and wrap my head in gauze and duct tape two pillows around my head and then play Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me", I'm sure that would dull the sound.

I've nearely had it with this supposed "auto account withdrawl". So far I think that has actually happened maybe twice in 10 months. The water company sends me bills, which I ignore, thinking they are coming out of my account (as the form I filled out said they would). Then they call the school and fuss a them and then the school fuses at me. The whole time I am thoroughly confused. Now the phone company is all up at arms because I haven't paid in 3 months. That's right, I haven't because THE MONEY IS COMING OUT OF MY ACCOUNT AUTOMATICALLY. As best I can figure, when I say, in Japanese, "I would like the money to be automatically withdrawn from my account, here is the form I just filled out also asking this to happen", somehow the translation turns into "I like French Toast, it's yummy yummy in my tummy". Because they always say "yes I understand you, I follow what you are saying, I comphrend what you want, I will make this happen". But it never does. I'm going to start putting all my money in my post office account, minus $200 (which should be well more than my utilities from now on). This way there is no chance I can take out the money, and if there are any problems I will just whip out my bank book, printed by the ATM and say "sorry, the money was there, SEE".

The gas will be turned on today at 2pm at my new place. It has an automatic heater so I never have to press a button and wait for the gas to come on. One odd thing I noticed is the shower comes from the bathroom sink. I flip a switch and it diverts it to the shower. No big deal, just odd. I feel like I am in a motor home camper thing when I am in the bathroom.

Guess who still has no classes? ME. I have been running all over the place today and I still have to go by the phone company water company. Geez, unreal. I'm going to transfer the phone to my new address and then cancel the service. Keep the $800 line, but just not pay $40+ a month for never making calls. I don't even know that number. My mother does though. I think my cell phone is set up to make calls.

Alrighty, off to pay more bills (that should have been deducted automatically).

So I left at about 1 and went to the phone company. I paid March and April and then had them transfer service to the new place. The guy had me get on a customer service phone which apparently connects me with some service center. We had the whole conversation in Japanese, which was really a trip for me. I gave her the old " talk to me like a 4 year old" line and she slowed down. The whole time we were chatting a strange echo or slight delay, as if I were on speaker phone on her end. Then we finish and she asks to speak to the phone company guy again. He chats for a minute. Apologizes and thanks her and then hangs up. He tells me my new phone number. Little did he know I plan to axe the whole scam in a week or two. Then he turns and walks across the room to a women and hands her the paper work and says something like "he agreed on this number". I realized that was the women I was talking to. The slight delay was that she was sitting about 20 feet behind me out in the open. Ha, whatever.

Then I paid the water bill that I hadn't been paying for the same reason. One good thing I learned is how to make the ATM update my passbook. I kept sticking it in and pressing the button and it would say something and kick it back out. So I kept trying it each time inserting it with a different page face up, and finally it took it and updated everything. Now I can tell who is taking out what money and when. I'm at the new place now and it's pretty hot outside, BUT inside, with no A/C on it's cool. I hope it stays like this so I can really save on utilities. I've got to save money, or at least not go in the hole each month. Luckily I get reimbursed tomorrow for my "business trip" to the renewer's conference in Tokyo. When they reimburse me for things, it's always plus a little for misc expenses and my time and trouble of having to pay myself. So for this trip I paid about $220 in advance and then I would have to pay another $170 for the bullet train and then food would be around $50. So that's $440 I would spend, but they (pre)imbursed me $510 so what $70 misc expenses. But since I am already broke I am going to take the bus down and back which is half the price of the shinkansen so I'll save some money. Next month I have another Key Money scam payment and then I'll be paid up. I won't be able to send back double until September probably, but it will be worth it to start my rapid bill-payoff.

I faxed a real to-the-point letter to the teacher at Adachi. She wants me to fill out this form about my exact detailed plan for the 1 hour eating habits class, when I only speak for maybe 10 minutes. What do you want me to write about for a ten minute speech? She had already given me an interary that was detailed, so I really didn't know what more she wanted me to write about. I just wrote her back and said "I don"t know what you want me to write about, your sheet was very detailed, and I am only talking for 10 minutes". I'm really just at a loss about what she wants.

I volunteered to be Fukuko's liason with the new JET they are getting. I would really be scared if I was coming in and there was no one before me to answer questions. They haven't faxed back, and maybe they won't need me, but I wanted to help in any way. It's about 3 pm now on Thursday. The gas company just came and turned on the gas here and we tested it so I can take warm showers and cook if needed. I'm too stressed and there's too much in the way to worry about cooking now. I've got to head over to the old place in a minute and watch the landlord at the old place do a move out inspection. I've heard you never get your deposit back anyway, it's just another part of the scam. Man I need to be a Japanese landlord, they have got to be loaded. Or create some other scam that involves people just giving me money for no reason and calling it "gift money".

Well I'm almost completely out of the old apartment. The inspector gave them a refund of $60 for their deposit. I really don't care. I just don't. Then I begged Emiko to help me one last time. She came over and we took a carload of odds and ends. Then I begged her to make the final trip and she really didn't want to. It involved bringing my refridgerator and mattress over. She finally agreed. I wobbled the fridge down the stairs and put it in her car. It's not an American style thing, it's only about chest high and I could lift it with minimal problems. She offered to help but I wouldn't let her. Then I ran up and got the mattress and squished it in half (a foam type thing) and then shoved it in the car. Now all that's left is a dresser and a two crap foam sofas and a dual burner gas cooker thing.

I was told so and so couldn't help me move because the fridge could not be tilted and he didn't have a truck. Well I didn't know anyone with a truck and I really didn't buy that excuse so I tilted the fridge ans shoved it right in. I wobbled it up the elevator and down the corridor, and guess what? It's working fine. It's getting nice and cold. So I took a chance and so far it has paid off. I can't get the bed back together so it's in pieces and I am on the mattress on the floor. It's comfy, but I wish I had somewhere to store the bed or get it back together at least.

So anyway. I email Hiraki and tell her about the bills I paid and the gas and the landlord. Then I ask when the big garbage will be picked up. She said I had better call then since no one else had. Oh, well what happened when I ASKED YOU THREE TIMES last week? THREE TIMES I distinctively asked if she could call for big garbage to be picked up this week sometime. She said ok and yes yes and anything else that came to mind, but apparently none of them actually meant "yes I will ACTUALLY call for you". So now I have to figure something out by Saturday or I get charged another month's rent. So again not sure what I am going to do. Good news is I get to go to Tokyo next week and get away from all this. This is really getting old.

Saturday May 31st

I'll write more later since i am at the e-cafe and this keyboard sucks horribly. The caps key has to be forced down to get it to work and all the other keys are a little slow. I should really not pick this cubicle when I come here. I printed out the program for Meg's "Celebration of Life" party tonight, which I'll upload later. It's funny. It's raining here now and I am all wet, but who cares. I'm about to go back and start rearranging the apartment and later I have to figure out how I can get the rest of the crap out of the apartment. That really erks me.