Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon.

Largely against my will, I am now the proud owner of an iPhone. This was no easy feat. Yesterday, I spent the better part of 5 hours attempting to procure one. In truth I was only actually seated with a representative for a cumulative hour, and the rest of the time was just spent waiting while my phone was being put through various stages of activation. Here’s the story on this:

"...phones phones phones phones phones..."

This is Eli. When I first met him I made the mistake of telling him about how I hadn’t gotten a phone yet. I had unknowingly triggered some sort of involuntary reflex that compelled him to barf up every bit of information he knew that related to the iPhone. Mildly interesting at first, but after 5 minutes of listening to him blather on, I tuned out, occasionally offering an indifferent “mmm” and “oh, rly?” Roughly 10 minutes later, I began asking him barbed questions that did little to veil my indifference on the subject, like “So Eli, what do you do when you’re not talking about phones?” and “Are you getting paid for this?” Eventually I brought out my camera to commemorate the moment where I had heard the most about phones from anyone, anywhere. And suddenly, silence. I was like “No! No! Keep talking about phones!” Ironically, he had nothing to say, so he compromised by repeating “Phones Phones Phones Phones Phones” while I snapped a picture.

My will to resist his aggressive pitch for iPhones ebbed, and he took me to set one up yesterday. It turns out that he’s an incredibly cool guy and has set up phones for at least 4 other JETs. He just really likes iPhones. We went out for drinks afterwards. Eli has a tattoo of Geraldo Rivera, which is probably the hipsteriest thing I’ve ever heard. In the end, I actually really like my iPhone, so it just goes to show how often I superficially reject the unfamiliar with a parochial desperation bordering on pathetic.

In any case, I got to choose the last 4 digits of my phone number. They are 4815. I’m a geek, I know. Those of you who know the significance of these numbers get a gold star.
You may have seen the pictures I posted of the Maebashi conference already, but if not, here are some interesting people:

This is Li Shan. He is from Montreal. He bears an uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson circa 1986. You know, after he got pretty but before he got freaky.

This is Michelle, from Vancouver. I had been told repeatedly by different people that Michelle was my twin. (For those of you who know the story, I also have a twin living in Prague whom I've never met. This leads me to believe that I am actually one of a set of three. And the three of us combined, with the use of our power rings, can call a superhero. It's all very scientific, you see.)

This is Brent. He is an ALT advisor in Gunma, which basically means he is responsible for giving wise and sound advice to JETs, should they ever find themselves in a position where they need help. Let it be known that at one point during the weekend he can be quoted as having said "My weenis is legendary."

In other news, I’m still looking for a place. My supervisor and I went to investigate another apartment yesterday. I had high hopes; the location was great, it was cheap, and it had 3 rooms, not including the kitchen. The landlord, however, had neglected to inform us that it was a freaking haunted house. We began our climb up to the third floor of the mansion complex braving giant moths that had been lynched by the cobwebs that hung from the ceilings. The space outside apartment number 307 (a prime number) was occupied by a family of freaky-looking spiders. I couldn’t help but picture the scene in Star Trek II when Khan put those mind-controlling Ceti parasites into Chekov’s helmet and they crawled into his ear and subsequently burrowed into his brain. On the apartment application form I checked the ‘no’ box for the ‘Do you want spiders to crawl inside your head and lay eggs in your brain for purposes of mind control’ question. That was low on my priority list. Anyway, we got inside and the layout had an unsettling Kubrickian feel to it, ominous doors at the end of long, narrow corridors etc etc. Complete the experience with old, creaky floors, filth, and an off-putting smell, and we had seen enough. When the landlord asked us when I could move in (as he was sure he had won us over) my supervisor politely told him to fuck in the direction of off at his earliest convenience.

On August 29th I may be heading out to climb Mt.Fuji. While Mt.Fuji is not a technical climb, it is said to be a difficult climb because of the loose volcanic rocks that make every step forward slide half a step back. So I’ll let you know how that goes. I may opt out since it’s relatively expensive and most of my funds this month will be allocated towards moving, and I don’t want to be poor. Being poor means adopting a cockney street urchin accent à la Oliver Twist, an altogether unbecoming prospect, as I am already sufficiently irritating.

Here are some videos I thought I would share. Both of these people are popular on Japanese TV right now. The first one I can’t stand and I usually end up flipping through channels to avoid him. The second one is of a TV personality I love immensely because she’s hilarious and reminds me a little of myself when I was young and homely.

...I just realized that both of these TV personalities have weird eyebrow gimmicks. Huh.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Welcome to Japan

Welcome to my blog. Here you will find relatively low-key mind wanderings about my life in Japan, which is, I’m afraid, only slightly more interesting than my life in Calgary, so feel free to close this window and continue your Google image search of ugly celebrity children.

Japan has proved itself to be way more awesome than pistachios, as per usual. I’m settling into a routine now. In keeping with Japan’s doomsday image, the weather has proved itself to be a meteoric cock-up of catastrophic proportions. Since I’ve arrived, there has been two tornados in my city (I was not present for these, as they occurred during Tokyo orientation) and an earthquake. Luckily the epicentre was somewhere north of Gunma. So I’m still alive. For now.

Even though it’s summer holidays, most of the kids come to school anyway. They participate in club activities and get help on their summer homework from the teachers. Not only do the kids get homework during summer holidays, they take tests on their first day back. So be good or you might be reincarnated in your next life as a Japanese High School student.

The school I work for is a well-oiled machine. Every teacher is instrumental in helping the students, and everyone does their best to make the whole machine run smoothly. At this point, because I haven’t taught any classes yet, I contribute an approximate value of 0 to the team, yet they still let me come back every day to continue making a fatuous gimp of myself. I was under the impression that I had one supervisor who was wholly responsible helping me get set up and answering any questions I may have. I met her, and she’s delightful. However, the powers-that-be at this school determined that one person would simply not be enough to manage the amount of ineptitude ejaculating from my wee self, so they charged the whole of their sizable English department to be my handlers. Every few days an English teacher will come up to me and inform me that they are “assigned” to me that day, and will I please just sit at my desk quietly and not make trouble please and thank-you. I’m sure we’ll all get along just fine in the end.

As most of you know, I’m currently in the process of hating my apartment and looking for a new one. I’m not sure how my predecessor managed to live a year in this ill-conceived monstrosity. Lofts may seem cool in theory, but in practice they are just plain dangerous. When it comes down to it, our groggy cave-man brains have not equipped us with the ability to skilfully maneuver down steep ladders at 6:45am every morning.

One thing I won’t be able to escape are the ubiquitous cottage cheese walls that plaster every apartment I’ve seen so far.

Care to see what I made myself for dinner last night? No? Tough titties, here it is:

This is rice and pumpkin and salad. I spend unreasonable amounts of time inside grocery stores, staring dolefully at exotic foods I can't read for packaging for. This usually ends in me buying recognizable foodstuffs, like the above, and more than often means I end up eating popsicles for dinner. This isn't really due to my lack of kanji-reading ability, but I'm a grown-up now and I can have popsicles for dinner if I want to. So there.

I think I'll quit while I'm ahead. In the next few days I'll be attending a conference in Maebashi, the next town over. I'll be meeting a lot of Gunma JETs and there will likely be drinking and karaoke and butt dragging on carpets etc. Not by me, of course.