Friday, April 29, 2011

15 Hr. Countdown to Vietnam

Guess where I'm going for Golden Week? Hint: Not to a place called "15 Hour Countdown To," but it is in the title. Last year for Golden Week I didn't do a dang thing. This year I'm taking Margaret Mann with me, we're going to Saigon (okay, Ho Chi Minh City), Hue, Hoi An, and hopping over to Cambodia to Angkor Wat. We leave tomorrow and we'll be gone until the 8th.

Kim-Chi taught me how to say numbers 1-10 (which I kind of forgot) and how to say "excuse me/sorry" (which I remember) in Vietnamese. I bought one of those money belts to stick in my short—nothing more appealing than a foreigner pulling dong out of her underwear. I'm not being as gross as you think I am; the dong is the Vietnamese currency. I am prepared to roll up my pants. I am in the long process of doing laundry. All I have to do is pack and clean the newt tank. So why am I writing this?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Return from the Blahs, or I Love Maple Bread Right Now

The cherry trees are in bloom, the weather is warm enough that I can no longer leave my milk on the counter overnight, and I finished my taxes. Welcome, Spring.


I'm posting this while at work, but when I get home tonight I'll add photos of random things that I've been doing lately. Uploading photos to Facebook is so tedious. All the tagging and the captioning just takes too long.


Yesterday, for the first time in a week, I had company at the office. Teresa left for Australia last week, the day before all the staff changes on April 1st. The honorably Kim-Chi has returned from her journey to the motherland, so now I have someone with whom to ack ack ack. We're going to prove to the rest of the new staff just how annoying I can be. Tee hee hee and har-de-har all the live long day. Also, I have had coffee but no breakfast. My hands tremble like nervous hamsters.


I am on a slow climb up from a serious case of the Blahs. The Blahs are those periods during which one has no motivation to do anything, and so withdraws from society and actively refuses to do anything that could be considered productive or good for oneself. I had a disabling period of blah during most of March. Dishes piled up, dirty laundry was strewn everywhere, I ate in my bed and spent my evenings watching crap on YouTube.


Recently, however, I have been doing at least one Very Productive Activity every other day. I did dishes. I did some laundry. I cleaned the newt and fish tanks. I responded to emails. Mind, once I take the time to sit down, usually when I'm too hungry to ignore my stomach anymore, all hope of productivity is lost. I tend to get fixated on things, be it entertainment or food or music, for a period of a month or so. My most recent fixations have resulted in the following: I eat maple bread toast for dinner at least four times per week, supplementing the carbohydrates with fresh mandarin oranges and carrots (or a head of locally grown lettuce, yesterday). I watch clip after clip of daytime dramas from Europe on YouTube while drinking rose wine [in moderation, Mom]. Then I go to bed. Suffice to say that my dreams are full of Dutch, Argentinean Spanish, and evil twins (which I do prefer over zombie apocalypse dreams).


In order to fully recover from the Blahs, I need to set a goal that doesn't involve exercising every day or learning Japanese (because that would just be setting myself up for failure). Don't worry, I don't need any suggestions. There's a man at my church who was classically trained as a tenor, and once he learned that I can tickle the ivories a bit he challenged me to play something for him. I worked up Rachmaninoff's "Prelude in G Minor" and played it after Sunday service last summer. It wasn't great, and the man was almost brutally honest about it, but he respected that I at least tried. He was supposed to return in kind. I requested a song in French, because Lordy knows I don't understand Italian.


Dear Keith (the tenor in question) travels back and forth between the U.S. and Japan, so there hasn't been an opportunity for him to fulfill his promises of song until now. He's back in town and I put the pressure on. He waffled and tried to get out of it, but I offered to help by playing the accompaniment for Camille Saint-Saens' "Claire de Lune." In fact, I as good as swore that I would work it up in three weeks so that he could sing it on Easter Sunday. There it is, folks. I have a goal: Camille Saint-Saens' "Claire de Lune" for voice and piano. I have until the 24th to get it under my fingers.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Week In Summary

This post is full of links.

I am the only municipal JET in Kamoka right now. The other two ALTs and the CIR are off visiting family or Australia, making good use of the down time between the end of the school/fiscal year and the new one coming in a couple of weeks. This leaves me a lot of time to do nothing, which I have done with a voraciousness and determination unmatched by all but the most diligent slackers.

I have collected more Craigslist Missed Connections ads for further mockery. I have looked up doing my taxes. I have asked my Ganbatte Times coeditor to write an article on doing taxes, which he did. I started to fill out all of the information on TurboTax, but then I got a little confused and gave up. I printed out information on my taxes. I learned that "snuck" is dialectal and "sneaked" is the correct past tense of "sneak."

Fear not, parents and friends my parents' age. I have done some mildly productive things, as well. I did my dishes. I washed my sheets (after I let a neighborhood tomcat into my apartment and my sheets smelled like cat butt). Takemura-san and Miyake-san, my supervisors*, asked Teresa and me to help with some stamping and organizing of papers, which we did with glee. I did some research of purple prose for that book I'm writing about vampire wizards and girl pirates.

I was subsequently distracted by one of the worst, most purple of prose descriptions of a woman I've ever read, plus one snarky artist's rendering of that description. This is a link you want to follow, people. Sample quote: "'You are quite beautiful, Princess Bronwyn,' Spikenard sang, with his sardonic grin and eyes as violet and as hard as amethysts."

I imagine that Spikenard has Grape Kool-Aid mouth and sardonic eyes.

Another quote: "Her buttocks were fresh-baked loaves; they were ivory eggs; they were the eggs of the lonely phoenix. They were a fist."

That sounds like an playground insult. "You're a stupidhead egg butt, Jimmy Jones!" Don't feel sorry for Jimmy Jones. He has a fist for buttocks.

Then I started scouring the internet for reviews and examples of the worst romance novels to be found. This search brought me to the "Studies in Crap" column on pitch magazine, which featured the following:

In case you didn't read the title of the book, it's Unicorn Vengeance. Read that title aloud to yourself, slowly, letting it sink into your brain, and then click through to the article. I had to pretend that I was sneezing into my scarf at work so that I didn't look like I had free time on my hands.

If you try to find other reviews of its kind elsewhere on the Internet, be forewarned that your time is wasted. The best I could find were the worst romance novel covers and the worst quotes from romance novels. It made me wish that someone else would make it his or her life's work to read the worst romance novels ever written and mock them. I'd do it, but I have my pride, you know. Any volunteers?

All this writing has made me thirsty. I'm off to refill my water bottle and do some lunges in the bathroom to get the blood flowing back into my lonely phoenix eggs.

*Today, April first, is the day when all the staff changes around, so Takemura, that big brotherly gem of a man, is no longer my co-supervisor. Now it's a lady named Kobayashi (Little Woods) who speaks English well. The end.
Laurel Ryan