Archive for May, 2010

Today Noji and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary! Two years ago, we had our first date in Shimokitazawa and we’ve basically been together ever since. 大好きよ、のっちゃん☆

So we decided to go to Ikebukuro, have some good food, and take some puri. Karaoke, renting DVDs, and purikura are our main forms of recreation, but purikura is one of those activities that either is fun and goes well, or just is a big awful mess. Purikura is, after all, an art: choose a good frame or background, look at the camera, don’t blink, pose (the most important part)– all in about 5 seconds. The only thing the machine gives you ample time to do is input your mail address for them to send you the pictures; everything else is a horrible rush of bad decisions. “Which one do we choose? WHICH ONE DO WE CHO–” The worst thing is after you do a crappy set, your first thought it to try again (at 4 bucks a pop).

Of course sometimes it all comes together into spontaneous cuteness, but today was not one of those days. Bad pictures, hoards of intimidating high school girls, I ran into a student I used to teach in the game center and had an awkward exchange, and then before we left we accidentally chose some weird machine that makes your eyes and lips huge (!!!) so Noji looked like an ugly made-up woman. Lately a lot of purikura machines are all about “beautiful skin” (blur tool used in overdrive) “beautiful eyes” (machine makes them bigger so you look like a demented anime character) and even options when you’re decorating them to draw on fake eyelashes, blush, color contacts,  change your haircolor etc. “Let’s burn them,” we decided.

Puri from other days.

But when we got home, Noji surprised me with lottery scratchers! Which are the biggest rip-off ever and we never, ever win anything but today I actually got 500 yenners off one. Only half of what Noji paid for all of them, but considering the crap odds on those things, still a cause for celebration. Happy anniversary indeed.

Meanwhile, the ghosts of Softbank past have been haunting me at work, destroying my morale because our new phonelines will never be installed correctly and I will have to hear “Have you called Softbank yet? Have they fixed problem #34678?” everyday until the end of time, but I’m already putting all of that out of my mind with my favorite weekend pasttime: NAIL ART BLOGS! Can you tell what I’m going to be doing with this month’s paycheck?


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My favorite invasive meme: what is in your bag!

  • Wallet
  • Burberry hand towel from one of the teachers I worked with last year and my obnoxious Burberry sunglasses
  • Disney hand towel (Japanese bathrooms don’t have paper towels)
  • Hand sanitizer (see above)
  • Kiehls pear lip gloss
  • My PASMO train card in a Ne-net (the cat) case
  • Keys with an obnoxious Disney keychain
  • Great book by Nakajima Ramo
  • MAC Studio Fix
  • Blotting papers
  • And the bag itself was my Christmas present to myself last year! Marc by Marc.

And then my work bag.

  • Muji “bag in bag” (a… bag for my bag)
  • Old iPod on its last legs (?)
  • Notebook for work, complete with Rilakkuma page markers.
  • Cutesy Capibara-san book for keeping track of my expenses
  • Aquaphor balm and hand lotion
  • Hair brush and lint remover
  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant wipes so I’m not a sweaty hot mess in the summer (endorsed by Ueto Aya)
  • Dictionary
  • And the is just a cheap Muji bag. Not quite the MZ Wallace I covet on all the snobby OLs in the train, but it’s a step.

Yesterday, Noji and I went to the grocery store after work and I saw a bat. A BAT! In Tokyo. 2+ years and I’m still learning new and horrible things about Tokyo everyday.

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My parents just moved down to L.A. and for the first time in ages, I am told that my dad’s commute is short and sweet. Which got me thinking about how lucky I’ve been with my commutes so far– college, language school, both of my jobs in Japan have all been easy. Almost all of them have been one train, or one bus, with minimal walking– save some treks to some weird inaka schools when I was teaching.

My current commute is not the shortest I’ve had, but all things considered, it could be hellish and it isn’t. One thing that isn’t exaggerated about Japan are the reports of rush hour trains being at 200% capacity with attendants packing people in so the doors can close. Everyday I see people literally run and launch themselves into completely full cars as the announcement reminds us all not to squeeze ourselves onto the train or attempt “unreasonable boarding.” (Wildly ignored by all riders.) It’s absolute insanity thinking about being squished like that everyday– and I don’t even ride a train that’s considered that bad, crowding-wise.

(Thankfully my train is not this bad ever, but only by a bit.)

Still, there is a light: every hour during rush hour, one train originates from my station. A totally empty train, rows of empty seats, for anyone willing to line up for about ten minutes beforehand. So I leave home a little bit early, get in line with all the other people who refuse to be squished (and watch in horror at the people who don’t mind the squishing), and we fight like dogs over the precious seats when the train comes. On the plus side, I get to sit pretty much everyday. On the minus side, the moment I sit down I am now unable to keep myself awake. I never understood how people could fall asleep on the train and naturally wake up before their stop, but now I’ve mastered it. From my house to the office is less than an hour– and that’s with the extra waiting I do for the special 始発 originating train. Blissful (for Tokyo, anyway).

Noji and I keep talking about moving when our lease is up, but I’m not sure I could give up sleeping through my morning commute everyday.

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Last week was Golden Week, which meant Thursday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all national holidays in Japan and predictably busy. We had the week off, which we spent with Noji’s family, visiting in Nara and Northern Gifu. It was great fun and very tiring (and very hot), but coming back to work this Monday was nightmareish. The offices we work with are not in Japan (and weren’t on holiday), so slogging through the backlog has been a marathon and I am exhausted. TGIF indeed.

(In Japanese, TGIF is supposedly 花金, but I’ve never seen anyone use it except the Yamanote line weather report and my Muji twitter feed. Noji says it’s old, but there’s no modern word he knows of to replace it, which is pretty sad.)

Still, Noji had a coupon for Tsutaya so he rented Inglorious Basterds, which just came out on DVD. Japan is incredibly slow with getting new movies, clearly. Anyway, we’ve been watching it tonight and the girl next door to us is, as usual, banging and crashing all over the place. What is she even doing all day? We moved into a new building last July and she has been clunking without reason ever since. She also has a boyfriend she fights loudly with. Before Valentines Day she threw away all of their pictures, notes etc (we saw them in our trash area) and things quieted down, but Noji claims he saw them together again and, lo and behold, the fights began again. Even better, now she has a dog that barks. Trifeca of annoying neighbor qualities.

On the plus side, there’s a nice girl in our building with a French Bulldog named Glico. She walks Glico at the same time I go to work, so we do our 挨拶 (greeting) each morning: ohayo gozaimasu! Greeting people in your building, at work, neighborhood etc. is an important part of getting along in Japan. Whenever someone commits a crime in Japan, the news inevitably asks their neighbors what kind of person they were. God forbid they ever say, “Well, he never greeted anyone.” It’s basically the same as saying they kick puppies.

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I wanted to start a blog for my family and friends to read about my life, but no idea where to begin.

Today Noji and I went to Ikebukuro. I’ve lived in Tokyo for about two and a half years– the first place I lived was Gotanda and it’s the butt of every fuuzoku joke but I really liked how convenient it was and bumming around Togoshi Ginza. I lived there for a few months, went back to New York to finish off my last semester of school, and then my new adventure began in Ikebukuro and I haven’t been able to drag myself away from Northern Tokyo since. Noji and I moved last year, but we still miss our old area in Otsuka and take ye ole green ToBus to Ikebukuro most weekends. It’s crowded and smells like literal ass but we know where everything is so we always end up there.

Now that I’m not (as) poor anymore, I’ve been buying a lot more crap whenever we go on our weekend Ikebukuro trips. Last month I bought these crazy legging things called Medicute. Today we passed a huge display at Loft with a million different styles because if there’s any insecurity to exploit for money in Japan, it’s got to be fat-leg related. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of squeezing my legs into some tight purple tubes since my legs are always tired and supposedly they help with swelling, fatigue, blood flow etc. so I bought some of the long sleeping ones at MatsuKiyo for 1500yenners. Today Noji asked me “Do they work?” I have no idea. What are they even supposed to be doing? I feel like my legs feel relaxed when I wake up but that’s probably because I’ve been squeezing them all night and they are happy to be free. But I still wear them every night. They’re weirdly comfortable but only just barely so sometimes I just want to rip them off.

Tomorrow is my first day back to the office since Golden Week started, so I am going to pack my legs into these tubes and relax so I can deal with my overflowing inbox in the morning. おやすみなさい!

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