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october already

So I was sick, and then I took meds, and I felt better but not great, so I went back to the doctor and got a bunch more medicine, and now I feel better? Maybe? My throat still feels weird, but as my mom will inevitably mention, the seasons are changing. Who knows.

At some point during today and the last time I blogged, it was my birthday! It was pretty nice. We had monjayaki for lunch, went shopping, and got expensive Matsuzaka beef bentos at the depachika for dinner. Other birthday celebrations over the last few weeks included: karaoke with my friend, yakiniku with Noji, and lots of cake. woo birthdays!

Anyway, going back to all the being sick– after Noji and I got married, I added his last name to my “registered alias” just in case I ever found that being a Nojima would be convenient going forward. I have no interest in changing it legally– seems so weird! that’s my name, man!– but having it as a registered alias means I have the option of freaking out Japanese people who only see my name somewhere before meeting me. Which is admittedly not that common of an occurrence?  Anyway, for some reason, all my insurance stuff changed over to my registered alias so now when I got to the doctor or whatever I’m Nojima-san. Weirdest sensation. It takes me a beat before it registers. “Who? OH ME?” The last time I went to the doc, I was by myself and didn’t wear any of my rings, so I hope they were all very confused as to where my last name had come from.

It’s not actually possible to have two surname or hyphenated households when you’re married in Japan (unless one of you is foreign) due to the family register system (but also because of the MAN and patriarchy trying to hold women down under the guise of family values). God forbid we don’t all have the same last name when we have our baby cat, because that would just be confusing.

(I’m not shading anyone who changes their name, mind you, but everyone should have that choice and that is not even an option here so seriously, what the hell).

This post is all over the place! Let me leave you with the incredible Chikuhodo blush brush I just got:
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I think it’s the softest thing I’ve ever touched.

say ahhhh

So literally right after I came home from my whirlwind trip to California (my flight got in at 4:30am on Monday!), I started the work week and then after THAT was done, I went straight from work to the shinkansen to Noji’s family house for a 3-day holiday. First day was onsen (more naked baths with family), second day was Universal Studios in 95 degree heat, third day was Recovery, then back to the work week again.

So I was so looking forward to having a relaxing “back to normal” weekend with some good food, some shopping, and a little bit of sleeping in, but instead I woke up on Saturday morning to searing pain in the right side of my mouth. A canker sore ?? I looked in the mirror and my right tonsil had turned black and white. “This is probably not good?” we decided, and abandoned our post waiting for the delivery man to come (if you aren’t there at the time you specifically asked them to come back, do you get a black mark in your takkyubin records?) to go to the local ENT that had just days earlier told Noji the rattling in his ear was a huge spider who had taken up residence in there. Actually no, they told him it was nothing which is almost worst.

So we get there and the elevator won’t go to their clinic floor. WHY! We call them, no answer. Two old ladies come out and say “oh no, it’s open! oh the 2nd floor? I don’t know about that one.” Convinced it’s a fluke, we take the train one stop to another ENT that is open on Saturdays and they are also closed. It is at THAT point that we realize something is amiss (actually to be honest, I was still thinking “is there an ENT convention today?”) and our phones confirmed that it was the worst day that could ever exist: a Saturday national holiday.

By then it was like 1pm and to find a doctor that is open on a Saturday (or worse, Sunday) past then is hard enough, let alone make it a holiday, so I got some crap at the pharmacy and we retreated. I knew an ENT that was open on Sundays that was on our train line, so we’d just get there when it opened. My left tonsil was slowly but surely joining in on the fun.

We didn’t exactly get there when it opened (20 minutes later) but that was enough time for 23 people to check in before us. Basically every Tokyoite who, like us, couldn’t go on the Saturday holiday, was there and mostly with children. We got there at 10:20am and waited for three hours. The doctor was a low talker and had a mask on so I have no idea half of the stuff she said to me except “this is a bad case” on account of the fact my tonsils were a gangrene purple color which I guess isn’t a good sign.

After that I had to inhale some weird smokey medicine through this machine straight out of the 1960s and then I got a crap-ton of medicine. It cost about 3000 yen (38 dollars). I always like to go home after a trip to the Japanese doctors and see what kind of “haven’t-been-used-in-2-decades” medicine they leave me with, but this time I got:

Cravit (wikipedia tells me a not an all alarming: Levofloxacin (Levaquin (U.S.), Tavanic (E.U.), and others) is a synthetic chemotherapeutic antibiotic of thefluoroquinolone drug class[1][2] and is used to treat severe or life-threatening bacterial infections or bacterial infections that have failed to respond to other antibiotic classes.)
Mucodyne (for mucus! clever naming)
Tranexamic acid capsules (this is for the swelling I guess but supposedly it stops blood loss? I hope I don’t have any of that.)
Mefenamic acid (pain reliever. Wikipedia tells me a cool fact: Mefenamic acid decreases inflammation (swelling) and uterine contractions by a still unknown mechanism.)

Anyway, I hope I feel better tomorrow. After all, IT’S MONDAY (!!!).

I’m going home on Wednesday to see my gramma! I wish the circumstances were better, but there’s never a bad time to go home. (I have a 4 hour layover in LAX on my way back, all alone with duty free shopping. Terrifying.)

It’s been two weeks since my last confession: my latest obsession is Hakuhodo makeup brushes.

I’m quick to get frustrated at the markup for Western brands in Japan– the arguably useless Jurlique rose spray that I begrudgingly like is 60USD here! It’s literally half the price in America– and really the only way to avoid having a full-on rage blackout is by buying Japanese brands. The stupid thing is we’re actually still paying more (here’s another example: Cle de Peau concealer is 74USD in Japan, 70USD in the US even though it’s a Japanese brand), but I think that this notion that makeup = expensive is so engrained here that you can’t really escape it anyway. When Burt’s Bees lipbalm costs 6 bucks, you know there is no longer logic involved. I really should stop doing these calculations.

To make a long story short, I needed new makeup brushes and my mind immediately jumped to MAC, the sort of classic go-to brand for brushes. Like most stuff though, the brushes were marked up around 50% of the US price. A bit of googling for other options brought me to Hakuhodo, a brand I’d heard of in the past, but assumed was too expensive and never pursued further. Going on the website and seeing all the different collections and number of brush variations totaling over 550 (!!), I was instantly overwhelmed but the kind people on the internet have already gone through the trouble of buying and reviewing most of them, so I read, and read, and took notes (literally) and went to the small counter at Ikebukuro’s Tobu department store.

Hakuhodo brushes really are a work of art, handmade from different animal hair (primarily goat, blue squirrel, horse, weasel) in every shape you could ever imagine or need. Everyone talks about how soft they are, but they are so soft. They range in price from ~10 dollars to ~200 dollars depending on the type of hair and handle, but the vast majority are very reasonable for the quality. I’ll probably go through individual reviews on feedyourface eventually, but after getting the B110 blush brush at their tiny department store counter, I went the next week to their boutique in Omotesando which has nearly all their brushes and bought 3 more. So luxe! And yet, cheaper than anything I would have got at MAC.

I had these grand plans that over Obon, I would catch up on my blogging and comments and beauty reviews, but instead we’ve stayed up until 3am, got up at 1pm, and literally rolled around the house until it’s cool enough to go outside.

We bought a few things for the new apartment, including a new desk which I filled with all my makeup, and a bunch of plastic storage boxes from Muji to hide all our crap under the bed. We had one of those manic “let’s clean all the things” moments at like 2am and slowly but surely things are beginning to look more together. 
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Anyway, it won’t all be cleaning and sleeping in. Somehow these made it into my wallet:
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Must do something to make this horrible season worth it!

OLYMPICS

Noji and I met right before the Olympics in Beijing 2008 and now here we are again. We’re on an Olympic schedule. Nothing like bonding over gymnastics and equestrian!

This year, the time difference means all the good stuff is on late at night, so we’ve been staying up late and DVRing stuff, but Japan typically only gets excited for the events that Japan is good at, which means hours and hours and hours and hours of judo and swimming and men’s gym. But mostly judo. I think I finally know some of the rules (“Why did he just get 101 points??”) but Japan has lost nearly all their matches and for the first time ever, no Japanese men won gold. An American women did though! America has my olympic nationalism all riled up though. U-S-A U-S-A

Anyway, July flew by and now it’s August, insanely hot and muggy like every horrible summer here. We’re about twice as far from the station as we used to live so it’s exhausting to do pretty much anything (besides online shopping!). Next week we have a week off, but what is there to do in 95 degree weather in a walking city? (Catch up on blogging, of course.) There’s such a small percentage of the year where the weather is nice, it’s one of the things I hate most about Tokyo. I don’t remember NY being this hot…

ty-ty

Unsurprisingly, our place is literally no more unpacked then when I made my last post. Things have been busy!

Last week we had a three-day weekend, which for 4 years running, we’ve spent in Gifu with Noji’s family. It usually becomes a Noji Birthday Celebration but this time we had a tinier reason to go back: BABIES! Noji’s brother’s wife had a baby last month, so it was time to pay a visit.

To be honest, I was kind of dreading it. I’m not really a maternal person, babies kind of freak me out. I didn’t want to have the “when are YOU planning on having kids?????” convo that would inevitably come up. ahhhh what if they make me hold himmmmmmmmm various selfish thoughts etc.

There’s something about mixed-race couples that seems to get people even more obsessed with babies. Half babies! Is there anything better! Mixed Race Babies Are The Best! As though our entire relationship is only legitimized by the potential cuteness of half babies. Erikas and Kens. When we waited for Noji’s parents at the airport with their Japanese tour guide, he spent most of the time showing us pictures of HIS half babies (now half adults) and going on about the wonders. “Handsome, isn’t he? Beautiful, isn’t she? You should try your hand at ’em too.” nudge nudge HALF BABIES

Anyway, we ended up only got asked about babies once and no one made me hold the baby and the baby was very cute but mostly just cried and wiggled. So it was not that bad! Then we all went back to work forever and ever and never had fun again.

home sweet home!

So we have successfully moved! Still surrounded by boxes, but we’re getting closer. Once things are more settled, I will do a little tour of the place, but right now it’s mostly just boxes and bags of clothes.

First impressions:
– Have gone to the grocery store next door (!) basically everyday
– Will die from overeating delicious tonkatsu takeout next to the station
– Water pressure in the bathroom is insane and actually kind of painful? (But better than a low-flow situation?)
– So much shopping close by
– I miss the pizza place by our old house

Packing was a bit stressful but we hired a moving company so the actual moving was relatively painless. Noji did everything else! I was pretty useless. This is the 4th (!) place we’ve lived in; all have had plusses and minuses, but I think we’ll be able to dig our heels in a bit here. MAYBE WITH A CAT???

Anyway, I leave you with Marina and the Diamonds new album, my Moving Soundtrack of 2012: