Friday, June 30, 2006
Near campus there is one actual 'coffee shop', a doutor that for some reason smells like raw sewage every time we walk through the door. Ironically, when we brave the smell and move through the cafe to the seats, the smell disappears. We have no idea where it comes from or why it won't go away, but it tends to keep us away from Doutor. So, with this in mind, Lukas & I left on a walk around the campus area in search of a new coffee shop. We were unsuccessful, but did come across this little gem near an elementary school, as well as a private pool that we both want to sneak into in the future.
It was a nice walk, just being together and having casual conversation. Along the way, he stopped and bought himself a bunch of fresh fruit and kept offering me some while we walked. I didn't really want any though, so we eventually made our way back to Doutor and spent another few hours there figuring out the $ stuff. After 2 iced cocoas and 2 lattes, and when the sun started to set, we headed for home. But Lukas has a really big report to write these days, and since he wanted to procrastinate, we took a detour and spent time in a park near home for more chat. It was nice, he gave me one of his expensive peaches and we just sat lost in our own thoughts. I was watching a Japanese man who was exercising and doing some strange stretches.
After the park, we headed for home. I decided I needed to buy some groceries so we parted ways near the dorms, and I picked up some stuff that I needed, and some treats for various mailboxes. When I got home, I found Claudia, Pu and Jose sitting on the star. I had to run up to my room and drop off the groceries, but then I came down and went over to see what was happening and they were in a strange conversation trying to decide where Jose should go for dinner, even though Claudia and Pu had already eaten and weren't even going with him! すごく変かしら。
I was starving, so I suggested my new favorite place to eat in Inage, CoCoICHI Curry! Jose agreed and we headed off, even though I had left my wallet and everything upstairs in my room. He bought me dinner and we had a really nice time talking and laughing. He told me all about his first few months in Japan and what it has been like for him trying to adapt to life here. I heard about Costa Rica, and his friends and family back home, and he told me so much that at one point, he looked down and saw that I had finished my meal and he still had a plate full of food! So to keep my laughing, he started stuffing it all into his mouth as quickly as he could swallow and finished the plate in less than 2 minutes! It was so funny, especially because we weren't in any hurry. After dinner, we walked back and he bragged to me about how he would tell all the other new students about the yummy curry restaurant, but wouldn't tell them where it was so they would have to go with him to experience it!
After dinner, I spent the night studying and doing homework. It seems like that's what I spend most of my time doing lately, but with 11 classes and school ending in a month, what did I expect?
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
His office was very chaotic, and as a result he'd misplaced my application form, so as I filled out a new one, he chatted with me about the family I would be visiting with. The mother is a member of a group that runs most of the volunteer events I've taken part in this past year (ie. shodo, wearing a kimono, free lunches and bizarres, etc). She is interested in all sorts of Japanese cultural things, and it seems as though my weekend will be jam packed full of cultural experiences. To make things even better, July 7th is a holiday in Japan, and there will most likely be a festival on the weekend while I am at my home stay.
Anyways, I have to call on the weekend to make arrangements to meet the family at the station near their home, but since I'm still terrified at the idea of making phone calls in Japanese, I'm going to try and find someone to help me with it. Hopefully Natasya will be available - I could use the moral support and she's always so confident when it comes to things like this; confident in a way that doesn't make me feel stupid.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
When Katya's dance started, I turned my attention to her and Aiko, choosing to just enjoy rather than video tape it like usual. Their dance was really unique, a big-stage-jazz style that the judges decided couldn't be judged fairly in comparison with all the other hip-hop and pop styles that the competitors had choreographed. It was amazing seeing what they'd been able to accomplish after only 2 days of rehearsing, and I was dissapointed that they didn't win, although they were chosen as the Director's Choice. Too bad he wasn't in charge of judging!!
Saturday, June 24, 2006
After Spanish class on Friday, I headed back directly to the dorms and made my way into the community hall about 15 minutes before they closed. Mie was waiting, but before she would give me the key, she had to take me on a guided tour of how everything worked (light switches, air conditioners, stereo system, etc) and how to clean up after the party. I had to sign another form for the key requisition, and then just minutes before 3, we finished and I headed up to my room to rest before James' party, which I mentioned in an earlier blog.
What I didn't mention earlier, was that after making my way into bed, the phone rang not once, but twice. The first time was Mie (Surprise #4). When we had been going through the cleaning list, I asked her if it would be alright to leave the cleaning for Sunday after I woke up. She had said no problem, but was calling to explain that someone else was using the hall on Sunday so I would need to clean up Saturday after the party. Not a problem, and it was nice of her to call and let me know. The 2nd time she called, I was more than a little surprised, (Surprise #5) especially when she asked me to come down to the office because a package had just arrived for me. I thought they were closing early, but I guess she knew it was a birthday present and wanted me to get it before the office was closed for the weekend. I knew almost instantly when I saw the Fed Ex box that it would be my cereal, and I was right. Thanks again Steve!!
Friday night, before leaving for James' party, I gave the key to Katya who wanted to use the hall for dance practice. She and Aiko had their big dance show coming up on Sunday and needed a place to rehearse. Late late that night, after my talk with Natasya, we stopped by the hall to see if anyone was around and found the 2 of them still dancing away. I knew it would be a late night, so I said goodnight and hoped Katya would be able to get some rest before the show 2 days away.
Ok, so that was Friday and as a result, Saturday began with a notion of responsibility for the hall and the key that I had been entrusted with. I had an email from Katya when I woke up that she'd left the key in my mailbox, and I used it to go back into the bldg and explore a bit by myself. I took a second glance at the stereo system, assessed the usefulness of the kitchen, and just played around with the lighting and air temperature until I got bored.
Around this time I got an email from Richie asking if he could take me out on a coffee date to celebrate my birthday, so I agreed and left to run some errands before we met. It wasn't long before he emailed me a 2nd time, apologizing, but his mother was coming online and he wanted to talk to her, so we changed plans for a dinner date, and I went to Hatim's room to visit and see what was going on. We chatted for quite a while until 6 o'clock came around and Richie came by to pick me up. Since it was my birthday dinner, I chose to re-live one of my Edmonton traditions, and we went for curry. The food was awesome, the conversation great, and the company, of course, incredible. Richie has this way of helping me put parts of my life into perspective, and he has a really unique way of seeing certain situations here in Japan. I love getting into philosophical discussions with him, and my birthday dinner was no exception. I was sorry to see the date end, but we both had plans for the night, so after a few hours and of course a birthday hug & kiss from my husband, we said goodnight.
From this point on, I came back and had just enough time to take a quick shower and then head down to open the hall before 9 o'clock, the "official" starting time for the party. I know 9 sounds pretty early - and it is, but I had a few things to take into consideration when I planned it. The most important for me was that Germany had yet another match in the soccer World Cup, and the only way Kai could come by the party was if he still had enough time to catch the train to Tokyo where he would be watching the game with his German friends. So beginning at 9, with a random mix of new friends and old, the party began.
As you can see, the group changed as the night progressed. People came and people went, which was exactly what I wanted my birthday party to be - a casual place where everyone could just get together, share some laughs, and then go their own way. Some people, couldn't make it, like Richie and Katya, but they both talked to me before hand and found their own ways to wish me a happy birthday. Some people weren't invited, and of them, Lukas respected my wishes and didn't come. It wasn't easy for me to celebrate my birthday without him, but at the same time, there is just too much history and confusion between us still for me. If he'd have been there, it would have kept me from enjoying the party like I wanted to, and it meant more for him to respect my choice to not have him there, than if he'd come against my wishes, like Claudia - who came uninvited, and then ignored me for hours making me wonder why she'd bothered to come in the first place.
But I digress.
Without any idea of how many people would be at the party or how many of them would be there at midnight, Hatim was lucky that Amed thought to bring a few cakes of his own to the party. For everyone's birthday, Hatim tries to bake them a special cake, and mine was no different. For his first attempt at an ice cream cake, it was amazing - despite the fact that I had told him specifically that I didn't want a cake! Just to be me, when midnight came around and everyone was trying to get the cakes ready, I snuck off to the washroom and hid while I heard them start singing Happy Birthday. It was great, even if it might have been a little mean. Anyways, after a moment alone, I went back to the main room and stood around feeling a bit embarrassed at being the center of attention while everyone sang Happy Birthday to me. I never realized how long that song could feel, but finally, as it ended, they put the cakes down and handed me a knife. I posed for a variety of pictures that really did not turn out, and then cut the cake.
Again, I needed a few minutes by myself. I thanked Hatim for the cake, handed him the knife to take over, and left to be by myself for a bit.
When I came back, everyone had devoured the ice cream cake with the exception of one piece for me. The chocolate and strawberry cakes that Amed had brought were being cut into, and everyone had spread back out into smaller groups. I tried to wander around, visiting everyone, chatting and letting them wish me a happy birthday again.
At one point, I wandered over by the kitchen area (where the stereo system is set up) and intervened just as Anthony & David were trying to change the music. I stopped them, wanting to listen to my own music for a change - it was my birthday after all, but David asked if he could just listen to a few salsa songs. I guess he wanted to dance - along with all the Spanish speakers, so I gave in and we had a half hour of dancing.
At some point during the post-midnight festivities, Claudia came up to me while I was talking with some friends. She wished me a happy birthday, pulled a gift out from behind her back, handed it to me, gave me a hug, and then stood awkwardly before walking away. I didn't know what to make of the situation, and after holding on to the gift for a few minutes unsure of whether to open it or not, I decided to put it down on the table and leave it for another time.
After the salsa music and dancing stuff ended, I thankfully got Hatim to plug my IPod back in and went back to my own birthday play list. It was a relief - I mean I love to dance, and haven't been salsa dancing in such a long time, but it just wasn't what I was in the mood for that night. I'd spent time during the day putting together a collection of music that I wanted to listen to, and I figured my birthday would be the one day a year that everyone here would respect my choice? I was wrong. Dead wrong. After Hatim had changed the music back to my own, I was sitting with a group of people just chilling. Suddenly, we heard somebody playing around with my music, changing the volume so we couldn't hear each other, and the songs, to music that was not on my playlist. I was pissed off. So much so, in fact, that I got up, headed straight for the kitchen, grabbed my IPod and headed out into the night for some air. I was doubly unimpressed to find out that it was Claudia of all people, but then again, not surprised.
Well, my friends refused to let me be alone and they came out searching for me within minutes. I wasn't trying to hide, and they found me sitting on the star behind the dorms. I just wanted to breath. To fume. To scream and shout and cry. But they came and cheered me up, and laughed, and were just there for me. And it was so amazing to know that these people, could be so thoughtful in the wake of everything I've been going through with my original group of friends here in Japan.
They managed to cheer me up so well that we were all laughing and having so much fun outside that I worried we'd bother the neighbors. I led everyone back inside, and the party continued until late into the morning. When it came time to clean up, everyone took over leaving me standing amidst my pile of gifts, not needed to raise a hand for anything. I felt somewhat sheepish that they were doing all the cleaning, but it was so nice to just feel special for a change, that I let them take care of everything.
When I finally made it up to my room that night (morning?) it was 4 am, and I took the time to put each of my presents on display. I still had Claudia's, wrapped, and staring back at me like some giant elephant in the room. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to open it - in fact, I wanted to throw it out, or give it back to her, or leave it somewhere, forgotten, where she would see it. But the longer I thought about it, and the more times I re-read her letter from so long ago, the more confused and upset I got. I thought back to the talk I'd had with Pu and the talk with Natasya, and I got so angry that Claudia has made things so difficult, that I decided I wanted to deal with it. Right then and there, I sent her a message asking her to come up. I knew she was up - we'd seen her walking around the neighborhood when I sat outside the bldg after the party with some friends. So I sent the msg, and I waited. I waited until 5 am when I fell asleep, and when I got up at 10 a few hours later, I continued to wait. I spent the majority of my birthday sitting on my bed, reading and re-reading her horrible letter, waiting for her to come up. I waited and waited and waited, and finally, as 2 o'clock neared, I worried that she wouldn't come up before I had to leave for Tokyo, so I sent another message. This time a simple "please", and I continued to wait.
Finally, just when I had all but given up, she knocked. I invited her in, and sat on my bed as a rush of feelings and thoughts passed over me. I had so much to say, but she seemed so oppressive sitting there, that all I managed to get out was that I wanted her there when I opened my gift.
I'm pitiful. I know. Why she has this ability to make me feel so small and insignificant is beyond me. I don't understand how someone who has been so heartless towards me can have such a huge impact on the way I feel. So despite everything I wanted to say, needed to say, all I managed to do was open her gift and sit there while she explained what it is and that she'd bought it because of how much she wanted it for herself.
I bit back my words as I thought things like "if you feel like that, just take it", and I resisted asking her why she'd got it for me if she wanted it so badly. I want to believe that despite her words, there was some reason why she would have bought it for me? Some way in which she thought I'd like it, or want it, or that for some reason she actually bought it for me. I did this while I sat staring at it on the bed, trying to find something in the gift that would help me understand why she'd given it to me. Why she'd given me anything at all. I sat thinking this for so long that finally she interupted my thoughts and asked me what I wanted her to say or do?
I didn't understand. I asked her what she meant? She insisted that she knew that I "wanted her to say or do something", but she didn't seem to have the answer to what that might be. Since this was her own imagination acting up, I couldn't answer for her either, and this seemed to make her aggressive. Aggressive Claudia is even more intimidating than usual Claudia, and I just broke down. I told her I was afraid. I told her that every time I re-read her letter, I tried to give her more space for fear that I was making her sick, or causing her pain. I told her that I didn't know what SHE wanted from me, and that I couldn't live like this anymore.
And her answer? Her deep, thoughtful, heartfelt answer that was all she could offer me after all the time, all the pain, all the confusion, all the tears, was that she couldn't remember what she'd written, and she "felt fine with the way things are".
Thoughtful, ne? All these months, I've been in pain, worried that I was somehow to blame for her pain/discomfort, putting her needs above my own, when in fact, she wasn't giving me a second thought. I was broken. I could feel myself crying deep inside, afraid to let her see how much her words had cut through my heart, so all I could muster was that I was glad to know I wasn't hurting her anymore. It was a relief when she left. I cried and cried and cried, hating my birthday for yet another year, and wondering if I had the courage and strength to spend the rest of it in Tokyo for Katya's dance performance.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
For example? I'm not sure how much detail I've gone into here about my relationship with Natasya, but for the last month or so, we haven't spoken to each other. Pretty much since I reached rock bottom and begged her to help me understand what was going on with Lukas and Claudia, which led her to writing me a really long, really honest email about how she was feeling, and thinking, and which ended with a request for a break. She told me she needed time - specifically until the 21st, and I agreed to give it to her, despite how much it broke me to do so.
Therefore, the night out in Tokyo, after passing her June 21st deadline, and tired of feeling so completely unimportant to everyone I'd once considered myself close with, I took out some of my frustration by asking her extremely sarcastically if I was allowed to talk to her. She acted bewildered at my comment, which honestly just hurt more, and added to the fact that Claudia was continuing to ignore me, I spent most of the night grumpy and not really talking to anyone. I hope I didn't ruin it for Anthony - I really really tried to stay neutral despite how hurt I was, but I've never been good at hiding my feelings like that.
I didn't think it mattered. In fact, I didn't honestly think after that night that I would ever talk to either of them again. It didn't help when Friday after class, when we were going to the cafeteria, Claudia, Kai and Pu first walked way ahead while I was getting my bike, and then fell behind when I tried to ride along side them. I figured to hell with them and went ahead to stop at the bank for some $. I came out, saw they were nowhere to be seen, and headed up to our usual cafeteria figuring they'd have at least saved me a seat. I was wrong. Big surprise, after the asshats (thanks Crystal, I love that word!) they've been for so long, why would I have expected to be remembered? In fact, it wasn't even just them, there was a group of people, including Natasya, Desy, Laila, and some other people already sitting in the cafeteria, and when I went up to the already full table, everyone just looked at me like I was 邪魔 for wanting to join. I just rolled my eyes, turned, and found an empty table. I was prepared to sit by myself, but Desy grabbed her lunch and joined me so I wouldn't look like the complete fool that everyone has made me feel like lately.
We had a nice time, just laughing and enjoying some time together since she's been so busy lately, and I was really unsure of what it meant when out of nowhere, Natasya came to the table and sat down. I tried to be civil, but it felt so awkward when she was talking to me. I didn't know why she was trying to act so casual, making small talk about what movies I'd seen lately, and other sort of stuff, but I was glad when it was time to leave for class because I was really uncomfortable with the situation.
Later that night, I was just hanging out in my room, trying to get some blogging done when there was a knock at the door. Pu had come to visit, and since neither of us had eaten dinner, we decided to go to the Thai restaurant where she used to work. This would be her first time as a customer, and she was really excited. Dinner was awesome. The food was delicious, and the conversation an interesting mix between English & Japanese. Pu was having a blast tormenting her boss' poor child, who had gotten used to seeing her only when his parents were leaving. (she used to babysit him, as well as work as a waitress at the restaurant). Because seeing her made him think his parents were leaving, the poor boy would scream and cry every time he saw her, which was somehow hilarious to Pu who kept sneaking up behind his mother and surprising both of them when she would "pop" out in front of his face. I've never been one to enjoy screaming children, but I have to admit it was fun watching Pu enjoy herself so much. In fact, seeing her so happy helped me feel comfortable enough to talk to her about some fairly personal stuff, and before I realized, so much time had gone by and I was getting emais and phone calls from Amed who was trying to figure out where I was.
James, a former JPAC student from Chiba Dai, was back from Australia for a week long visit. He had arrived earlier that day, and had met up with all his old friends (who are still in Japan) at the dorms at 8:30. Since Amed knows I've been pretty lonely lately, he invited me out to join them for dinner & drinks, and was waiting for me while I was out with Pu. We rushed back to the dorms, crossing paths with Amed in the park, and I decided to return home with Pu and make my way to the 飲み会 a bit late.
I said goodnight to Pu, who headed up to her room, and I returned to mine under the pretext of getting changed for James' welcome party. In fact, I needed to come up and think through some of the things Pu had said to me in regards to our "group" of friends. She really said some stuff that opened my eyes, and let me see that I'm not the only one feeling so cast out of the group. It was important for me to know how she has been feeling, because it helped give me the courage I needed for the next part of my night. --> On my walk to the restaurant where I would meet up with Amed and James and that whole group, I decided to email Natasya. I wanted to ask her what was up with the weirdness at lunch, and I wanted to find out when we would finally talk after her June 21st deadline. I was in the midst of typing my email when my keitai rang that I had a msg trying to come through. Under normal circumstances, I would finish my msg and send it before recieving a new one, but for a change, I put my email on hold to see who it was. Imagine my surprise when it was Natasya asking me if I was available.
I sat down in the park, alone with my thoughts and her short question staring back at me from my keitai. I knew I was putting too much thought into it, but with my birthday the next day and the way I was feeling, I really didn't know what to make of it. But, with the courage from Pu, I decided to meet with her - however, on my own terms. I answered, explaining that I was on my way to see James, and that I'd be home & available in a few hours. She answered quickly saying to have a nice time and she'd see me then. I was surprised, but with that, I found the party and sat back to enjoy some good food, karaoke, and conversation with a new group of people.
I wish I could say that from there everything went smoothly and things are back to normal between me & Natasya. I wish I could say that I could forgive things as easily as I let them upset me, but unfortunately, that's just not who I am. So when I was enjoying myself at the party and got an email from Natasya, I was pissed off to read her asking me to postpone our talk, yet again. She wrote out a list of excuses about why it was suddenly not a good night for her, and asked if we could talk Monday, which would be better for her. Now, under normal circumstances, I would of course say no problem, and to try not to work so hard. But I'd literally had enough. Trying not to cry and make a scene at the party, I sat with my keitai, writing and re-writing my response, deciding at last to refuse to wait for her anymore. I answered as honestly as I could explaining that I was not going to let her hurt me anymore by putting me at the bottom of her priorities. I guess I made it very clear that our talk was either going to be that night, or never, because she wrote back that she was sorry and she would see me when I got home.
Still, even though she gave in, my night was ruined, and I eagerly waited for the 2 hours to end at the restaurant so I could come home and just go to my room and be alone. I didn't want to party anymore. I didn't even really want to talk to Natasya, but felt it was more important to stand up to her (or rather, stand up for myself for a change) than to give in yet again and be in pain. So, when I got home, I emailed her and then sat back to wait. She came up, and sat down, and thus continued my emotional roller coaster birthday week.
Our talk involved a lot of silent moments, a lot of shared feelings, and a lot of crying, on my part. I was hurt, and I needed her to know she was a big part of that. Not because I wanted her to hurt, but because I needed her to understand how hard it had been for me to wait for her, and for me to understand how she could cut me off so easily and so abruptly, especially at a time when she knew I needed her most. She had no real answer, other than she'd felt she couldn't be as strong as I needed her to be, and she couldn't act it for me. In my defense, I've never asked her to act as someone other than herself for me, nor have I asked her to be strong. I've instead, always told her how I was here for her, in whatever capacity she needed as a friend. When she cut me off, and set a time frame in which we couldn't be friends, she gave me a reason to doubt her friendship; to doubt her sincerity when she says she cares about me.
It's ironic I suppose, because before this, I never felt a need to define our friendship, or analyze the time we spent together. But now, knowing how easy it was for her to hurt me, I feel like I've been put in this position where I have to put her at a distance. I don't feel like I can let myself trust her, or that she even wants to be trusted by me. Since our talk, when I said I'd be willing to try, but didn't know if I could get close again, we've had some small talk and occasional emails back and forth about nothing important. Where we go from here.. who knows. The way I think about her and feel about her has changed completely. I still care, because that's who I am, but I'm afraid of her. Afraid to be hurt by her again. Afraid to be made a fool of by her again. Afraid because I feel like I'll never be able to trust her again, and I don't know what that says about me as a person.
The first stop on Anthony's birthday drinking adventure was a bar in Ebisu. This was where we arranged to meet, but when we got out of the station, I noticed 2 missed calls from Lukas on my phone. [this seems to happen to me a lot lately, I never hear my phone ring, grrrrr]. Hatim called him up to see what was going on, and we were told to wait at the station since the group was moving to Shibuya. Since we got the message a few moments too late and were already out of the ticket gate, Hatim decided to grab a latte and I wanted to explore the neighborhood for a while. Lukas used to talk about Ebisu a lot - I think it was one of his favorite places in Tokyo, but I'd never been there before. I didn't actually see much because we were trying to stay close to the eki, but it looked interesting. I think I'll explore one day when I'm through with school & all the chaos in my life lately.
Anyways, we made our way around the eki to the main entrance where we met up with Anthony & his birthday following - Lukas, Kai, Claudia, Pu, David, Daniel & 3 Japanese people I'd never met before. Everyone seemed happy to see us, and wanted to hear about the festival as we got our tickets and rode the train to the next station, Shibuya. Once there, we tried 2 different bars that had been recommended to Anthony, but the first was packed and the second, closed. Finally, Anthony let Lukas decide and we found our way to an English style pub called the Hub. Along the way, Natasya and Katya showed up, having come late from the Universal Festival. Inside, we toasted Anthony, had an array of interesting conversations, took photos, and of course, drank.
Anthony, for his big 21st, decided that he wanted to celebrate by drinking 21 shots with 21 friends. Since 21 people couldn't make it, a few of us had to double up on the shooters which I really don't think was a problem. Throughout the night, it was extremely symbolic to him to commemorate each shot with a picture and a toast. I couldn't think of much on the spot - I mentioned in my last blog what a strangely emotional place I was in this whole night, but I chose to toast Cancers, since we share so many character traits and of course, birthdays in the same week. I was lucky #13.
After Anthony drank shots #14 (with Katya), #15 (Natasya) , #16 (me again) and #17 (Lukas), it had already reached 1 am, which we found out by the strange Japanese custom of playing Auld Lang Syne, meant closing time. We weren't happy to have to leave, but before we did, Anthony made sure to ask a few of the other customers to get a group photo for us. He made some new friends in the process, and while he tried to include the bartender/waitress in that, I think they were happy to see us go.
From the Hub, we tried a restaurant that looked nice from the outside. After getting inside, sitting down and settling in, we discovered that there would be a 500 yen sitting fee for each of us, on top of the exorbitant prices (such as 900 yen per beer). Unimpressed, Anthony and Hiro (Lukas' Japanese friend) tried to negotiate a deal while the rest of us just took advantage of the break to sit back and nap a bit. Hatim, always the monkey, enjoyed hanging upside down from the 2nd story, which upset the staff and increased the tention, and we ended up deciding to leave instead of paying to sit in the restaurant that really didn't seem to want us. On our way out, we discovered that somewhere along the lines, we'd lost Pu. Her purse was still at the restaurant with us, but she was nowhere to be found. We kept trying to call her, but her keitai was off, and after searching the empty restaurant, washrooms, and nearby streets, the group of us stood at the entrance to an Izakaya arguing about what should be done. Half of us wanted to search for her, knowing she couldn't know where we'd moved to and without her purse/wallet, she wouldn't be able to go anywhere, and the other half of the group were adamant that she left on her own and would therefore find her way back to us on her own.
In the end, it was agreed that since Lukas knew Shibuya and Japanese, he would go to the Koban (police box), explain that she was missing and where we were if she happened to come in looking for her purse/friends. He left with Hiro and some other people continued to search for her. They found Pu, standing in front of a combenie with some Japanese woman who was apparantly missing a few screws and Pu was trying to help her with something. It all sounded really suspicious, but Pu insisted that she was just trying to help the woman and had planned to come back before she was missed. We all gave up trying to explain how worried we'd been, and instead, went into the Izakaya, and returned to our talking/pictures/drinking/etc.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I'd met Anthony at midnight the night before during half time in the soccer game. It was the first game I've ever seen - Kai was spending so many nights in Tokyo that week that he watched the game at home and I was excited to see Germany play with him. The game, in my opinion, was actually extremely boring, and I Don't see what all the fuss is about. I'd much rather a decent hockey game and a pitcher any time. Anyways, we ran down to the star during half time and met up with Anthony. When my keitai alarm went off, we wished him a Happy Birthday while he poured 2 beers over his head and welcomed his 21st birthday like I imagine a true American should.
From then, Kai ran back upstairs, with his German flag in tow. I stood around for a few more minutes with Anthony, Claudia and Lukas, and then headed back up for the 2nd half. It was really not any better, and Jose kept me amused with cute little cmails during the game. Germany won, of course, and Kai was happy, but I guess I'd been expecting more?
Anyways, while I was killing time before the Universal Festival, my mind was occupied with thoughts of the night before and the night to come. I really had no idea what to expect from a night out in Tokyo with a group of people who hadn't been speaking to me for over a month, but it was Anthony's birthday, he asked me to be there, and I agreed.
The festival began with people being shuffling through an entranceway where free pamphlets were being distributed with info about the 4 featured countries and what the festival would entail. I led the way, choosing seats halfway down and on the left side of the auditorium, where myself, Andrew, Hatim, Amed, David and Eugenie sat to watch the show. I saw most of the Indonesians running around in their beautiful traditional costumes, and Katya was sporting her memorable Strawberry dress. I admittedly couldn't follow most of the Japanese in the presentations, but I amused myself with various activities such as taking pictures, videos, and playing tetris on my keitai.
Everything seemed so much better than the last time around (when I was onstage posing as an Austrian) and it was nice to just sit back and let everyone else do all the work this time around. But, as 9 o'clock rolled around and the festival neared its end, I was anxious about getting to Tokyo on time and rushed Hatim, Eugenie and Amed out the door so we could rush back to the dorms. Amed thankfully gave us a ride - saving us nearly 15 minutes, and with that, Hatim and I went to our respective rooms to get ready for Anthony's party.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
The walk to the Eki was fun, giggling the whole way as we talked about boys and other Laila-ish topics. I forget sometimes how girly she can be, but Laila wasted no time in reminding me with something as simple as the following example.
(ok.. this is as close as I can remember it)
Cori: Laila-chan, you didn't bring an umbrella? What will you do when it starts to rain?
Laila: Oh my Cori.. can we stop at the 本屋? I want to buy a new one there.
Cori: Sure, no problem.[upon reaching the bookstore]Cori: (sarcastically) oh look, this pink one will match your outfit!
Laila: true.. but this other one has a rabbit on the end. かわいいね～
She did in fact buy the pretty pink umbrella with the plastic rabbit on it. Don't ever let it be said that Laila is not lucu ;o)
@ the Eki, we waited for her Okinawan boy to show up. While we waited, we perused the flower shop and I pointed out the signs overhead that declared it now 'summer' in Japan. Finally, nearly 30 minutes (of my precious sleep time!) later, Shusatsu arrived, and the 3 of us bought our tickets before getting on the train towards Disneyland.
After arriving at Maihama, we met up Yuki, our 4th, and entered the park grounds during a light rain that continued on and off the entire day. (Laila got plenty of use of her umbrella!) The entire day - which lasted until we got home after 8pm, was spent in Japanese. Yuki had spent a year in Vancouver, and occasionally asked me a question in or about English, but I made a really big effort to spend the entire time thinking and conversing in Nihongo. It became extremely exhausting after the 6 or so hours at the park, and in the end, I was so tired I pretty much slept the whole way home. But, until that point, we had fun chatting about billions of different things, sharing partners to ride the various roller coasters (there are 6 in Disney Sea as opposed to the 2 in Disney Land), and visiting the souvenir shops. Lunch was interesting - in the Alladdin section we could get Curry and various other Indian dishes, which surprised me. I remember Disneyland back in L.A. and everything there was what you'd expect - hot dogs, fries, portable type food, and the occasional American Style sit-down restaurant. I guess here, they really want you to feel like you've left Japan and instead of feeling like you've only entered a theme park, they've tried to create a place that is 'so' much more.
Anyways, the rides at Disney Sea, while better than Tokyo Disney Land, were more difficult to capture on film. Here are some of the highlights.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Your newly discovered confidence can get you into entanglements that bring up old issues. You start out with a light and easy attitude, but quickly get in over your head. Your first impulse is to withdraw, but you stand much to gain from stretching beyond your old limitations. You've waited long enough; it's time to go after whatever you want.Monday, June 19, 2006
anyways, off to meet with Patcharin. we're going in search of Anthony's birthday presents, which means another trip to Ikea! Yay!!
Friday, June 16, 2006
The second package, was much more of a surprise, and much more exciting! Mom sent me my birthday present, and granted I should have waited until next week to open it, I didn't want to! I'm glad, too, because look at the exciting array of books I can spend my time pouring through for the next few weeks of rainy season!
The puzzles are intriguing, the Yoshimoto an easy read, and Dan Brown (author of the Da Vinci Code) should offer a challenge to try and solve the mystery before the characters do. Between the books I picked up in Shinjuku recently, and these unexpected gems from home, I can hopefully kick the recent TV addiction I've picked up, and spend my time doing something more interesting and productive.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Why? Well, I suppose there are many different reasons, but for me, honestly, my birthday has always been a day saturated with inner-conflict and hypocrisy. It is a day that brings together people from all areas of my life to satisfy some social obligation that says they (you?) should be there for no reason other than the date on a calendar. And people enjoy this? It seems so utterly phony to me; contrived and insincere, to join together and partake in an exercise in simulated affection.
However, as equally true, and perhaps equally baffling, I adore other people's birthdays, and the chance to find the perfect gift that shows them how much time I have taken to get to know them as a person, and hopefully found something that I think they will really appreciate/enjoy/etc. This in turn brings me a sense of satisfaction, and thus, my forage into birthday gifts is for purely selfish reasons, and yes, I've accepted this. And I really do enjoy putting the time and energy into figuring out what that gift will be - when I get to see the recipient thoroughly enjoy their gift, or those really special occasions when someone tells me I've gotten them one of the best presents they've ever received.
But, for my first official birthday hypocrisy, in an answer to the question raised above, I have attempted to put together a clear and honest list. If you've come across this list by some bad twist of fate, please don't take it to mean you should get me anything, least of all something I've narcissistically taken the time to write out.. And for those of you who find yourself searching this list for the answer to my birthday gift riddle - well.. good luck - this list probably won't provide the simple answer you were looking for, but at least its honest.
- I want someone to buy me a bouquet of my favorite flowers.
- I want someone to invite me to go somewhere I've never been before.
- I want to go somewhere exciting and stay in a Ryokan.
- I want someone to invite me to a movie, and then go out for dinner afterwards to talk about it.
- I want someone to buy a book they think I would find interesting, and then spend time over the next month reading it with me.
- I want you to know me well enough to be able to come up with something you think I would like. I want to know that you know me. That after 8 months, or longer, you've cared enough about me on your own time, that you can find a way to express that to me on the day society says your supposed to.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
After a late night on Thursday, I managed to sleep through yet another Japanese class on Friday morning. I realize that it is only a matter of time now before Yoshino sensei kicks me out of the program, but I am reaching a strangee point where I realize the class is actually a huge source of stress and frustration right now - and given my emotional state, why should I push myself to attend? I more likely than not will not receive credit for the class - it's not a high enough jump to qualify for 401/402 credit, and the grades are based more on homework and exams than on attendance. (shrug)
But, somehow, I still feel guilty for missing a class without even a half-decent excuse, so I made my way to school in the POURING rain to at least get to 3rd period. Spanish was strange today - first I should explain that the teacher absolutely loves the group of International students in her class. She knows all of our names (unlike those of the 40 or so Japanese students), knows where we are from, and asks one of us every time she wants to demonstrate or practice something in the class. Today was no exception, as she first called on me to try and translate some Spanish sentences into English, and then again when she wanted the class to practice dictation. The whole experience was rather pointless, I think, because she first tried just saying random sentences, and the Japanese kids stared at her like she was from another planet. Then she asked me to go up to the board and write the sentences she was dictating, which I did, but of course the students just copied what I wrote rather than trying to distinguish and spell the words themselves.
And, to top it all off, there is no way that I knew all the correct spellings or accent placements, but she didn't go through my sentences to check them until I was already finished and sitting back down, so they probably copied down all of my errors too!
After class, as we headed back out into the rain, I decided I needed to deal with my hair once and for all. I've been whining for nearly 2 months, saying I need to cut it, but I've been too lazy to actually go and get it done. And finaly, with the humidity making my hair stick to the sides of my face and back of my neck, I'd had enough. I asked Eugenie for help, and off we went to downtown Chiba in search of a salon.
I couldn't remember where I'd gone the first time, with Laila and Desy. So instead of trying to find the same place, I was excited to find somewhere new and exciting, hoping for an equally decent hair cut and perhaps a more satisfying experience. On one of the main intersections, there is a large salon set on the 2nd floor of an office building, that looks out onto the street. It's name is simply Fab and it seemed posh enough to meet my expectations. As we walked in, the greeter directed us to a line of lockers where we could stow our bags, umbrellas, etc, and then to a hair station where we had magazines to flip through as we waited for my stylist. The magazines were an important step, because like usual, I had no idea what I wanted my haircut to look like, but I was too scared to just say 'surprise me'. While we fiipped through picture after picture of various hair styles, my hairdresser tried to make me comfortable by setting his hair drying to cool and blowing on the back of my neck for 5 minutes or so.
After some hemming and hawing, I picked a hairstyle I thought was cute, and we explained to him that I wanted something 'like' it, but not exactly. He understood, and proceded to my shampoo, condition, and rinse. I felt bad, because when he was washing my hair, he kept trying to talk to me, and I must have seemed like such a dunce not being able to hold a conversation. But besides the difficultness of trying to chat in Japanese with a complete stranger, doing it while I have water spraying past my ears is nearly impossible - I could only half make-out what he was asking me, and after asking him to repeat each question like 3 times, he eventually gave up and let me enjoy the shampooing in peace.
As a result, when the cutting part started, he remained fairly quiet, seeming to enjoy listen to me & Eugenie chatting in English. With the exception of explaining to me that although I thought I'd never been in the salon before, it was in fact my 2nd visit.
Confused? Allow me to explain.
Back in November, when Laila, Desy and myself decided to venture into the scary world of Japanese hair salons, we wandered around Chiba for nearly an hour before I decided on a salon with a shiny pink door. I remember it quite vividly, because it was a door that led to a staircase along an equally shiny pink wall and eventually, into the undergound lair at which I got my first Japanese hair cut. The whole basement (ie. no windows, no natural light, etc) was a bit eerie, but I really liked the cut and the experience which involved not only one, but 2 shampoos, a scalp massage, and free tea for all 3 of us while the girls waited around for me to finish.
Since that time, the little hidden salon decided they needed to move on to bigger and better things, and proceeded to move into the much larger, much brighter, 2nd story location I described previously. They changed their name, dropped the pink decor in lieu of a more sleek white & grey combo, and I presume enjoyed the continued patronage of their old clientele and a much larger percentage of walk-in traffic. To mine and Eugenie's complete surprise, the hair stylist recognized me, and remembered that I'd been in the old salon all those many months ago. He wasn't even the one that cut my hair last time, but he remembered me all the same.
I'm not sure if it's coincidence, or what, but all the same, I like my hair cut. It's pretty short - shorter than I've had it for a long time, but he really cut out a lot of the weight and thickness that was getting to be really troublesome with the heat and humidity.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Cori - wtg Squidge!! says:
I went out for coffee today with 2 ppl, and we spent an hour and a half just laughing at the fact that I knew every single one of the old (and I'm talking early 80s) love songs that were being played. They must be from one of those late night TV infomercial love song CDs or something, and I could sing every single one them. It was embarassing!
Cori - wtg Squidge!! says:
it really was! and before that, we went for a bike ride around campus and found a tiny little gate that led to a pretty pathway surrounded by exotic plants and flowers. It's been there the whole time, I'm sure, but since I always take the same route to and from school, I'd never seen it beforel
Japan sounds like such a weird and wonderful place. People keep on saying, "Oh, but you might hate it" and I'm just thinking, based upon what I've read from you, "Oh, but I might love it, too"
Cori - wtg Squidge!! says:
I can't figure out what I'm doing when I get home, but I know without a doubt that someday, somehow, I'll be back here.
I've noticed that a lot of people who've lived in Japan for a period of time and come back, seem to share the same sentiment
Cori - wtg Squidge!! says:
[despite my recent whining], I still love Japan, I love the country, the language, the ppl, the culture, the organized chaos that can't even be described. There's just something about Japan that calls to me - I feel it when I'm away from the dorm, and my classes and the 留学生 bubble.
Cori - wtg Squidge!! says:
and it's something I never felt back in Canada - which I love for many very different reasons.
It's good that you can make that distinction
that's really interesting
anyways, I'm just lying in bed trying to figure out what's wrong with me today. I woke up really dizzy and sick and couldn't even make it across the room to my keitai to email Steph. She actually called me a few times, and though I remember finally answering it, I'm not sure what I managed to say?
I slept a few more hours, made a few more visits to the porcelain thrown, and now I'm thinking I might be okay. I'm less dizzy, and feeling somewhat hungry - which is probably a good thing? I'm expecting a call anytime now that Lukas' birthday present is ready to be picked up.. and I guess the walk will do me good. It's not far, so I should be able to make it there and back without collapsing. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I hope it's just from too much studying, stressing, and general life stuff that will pass now that I've had a day of doing nothing.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Monday, June 05, 2006
Last night, someone really special invited me out to dinner, and spent hours trying to cheer me up. It was so amazing to do that, including me into a very private part of their lives, and it meant so much. Thank you - you really are so precious to me.
And I'm not writing this to be sarcastic, or put pressure on anyone else. I just want to comment on a really special thing that I appreciate.. which does NOT mean I don't appreciate other people or other moments in my life. Right now, I feel like I can't please anyone, and the more I try, frankly, the worse they and I feel. I just don't know what I can do anymore. We all have our own issues, and I feel like I have tried over and over again to address mine with the people they affect directly. Is there a reason I'm not worth that same amount of effort? Am I asking too much to think that's a simple thing?
I don't want to make anyone else feel hurt or pressured.. but I'm not sure that I understand why being with me does that. I'm so confused and hurt these days.. that everything gets blown out of proportion. I know it, but I can't seem to fix it by myself.
Happy birthday Lukas, I hope this next year brings you what you're looking for out of life.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Stephen, you are supposed to send me the cheerios yourself, you bum! I want to see pictures of the condo, now that your shopping is finished and all.
For the rest of you.. well, seriously, if you have a problem with what I write in my blog, would you please for the love of god, just come talk to me directly? I can't read minds, I can't guess what you're thinking or feeling, and I definately am not going to put any more thought into the "he said, she said" anymore. My thoughts and feelings are not secret - you can read them here and move on, or be brave enough to face me yourselves.
Ok, now recently I wrote a msg thanking Lukas for some help he gave me in Japanese. My focus on him ended up hurting someone that felt overlooked, so to make up for that, I want to send a shout out to the following people. This list is far from complete, but just some of the people I might have missed recently.
Thank you to Natasya and Claudia for finally coming clean to me with how they are feeling and giving me some insight into what's been going on.
Thank you Desy for the little present in my mailbox today ;o)
Hatim, thanks for always being there, usually with some way to make me smile or laugh. Your neighbor is seriously scary (shiver) - but I look forward to tormenting him with more shenanigans in the future.
Andrew, your Dad's here now, right? How is he enjoying himself? I hope we can get together after he leaves.. I know you're so busy. Me too!
Laila, it's been so long since we talked, who are you dating now?
Steph, how was Korea?? I want to hear all about it, and to spend some time with you & Rob! When do you leave for Taiwan?
Katya, your plant is sitting on my desk, along with the picture of Vladivostok. I feel like I have a little bit of you here with me, even though you're far away in Tokyo. When your home, you need to come up and help me name it. All plants should have names, I think.
Anthony? Kai? do you 2 even read this? if so, keep up your crazy antics - they usually make me laugh, even if it's on the inside
Eu, you still owe me a Karaoke night, but hopefully it can wait until at least next weekend? so so so busy right now (@_@)
Richie, last, but only because he already knows what I'm about to say.
you are the people that are part of my day to day life. for good or bad, I guess that's up to you, but I suppose sometimes I forget that I affect you in ways that you affect me. We live together for such a short time, and each of us interprets that differently, but for me, I want to make the best of our time together. I love Japan, I love this time in my life where we are free to experience this country, this culture, and each other. I've been accused of making light of the fact that we have only 3 months left, but I think I was misunderstood. I want to make the last 3 months the best 3 months. I want to see and do things that I can only do in Japan, and I want to share those experiences with the people I've mentioned above, and all the others that are also a part of my life here.
I am afraid of many things, but not of saying what I want or how I feel about the people here and the opportunities we have in our lives right now. For those of you who feel that is unfair of me, well.. I'm sorry, but too bad. This is who I am, and while there are many things I am trying to change about myself, I believe my candor is actually a strength.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
In other news.. I'm pretty busy with 2 midterms this week, a speech to present on wednesday and of course the usual homework & essays to keep up with. I had a really rough day yesterday and spent a really nice time in Patcharin's room (she made me dinner) having a good talk. Richie took me out for lunch today and we talked again, and I've been getting sweet messages all night from some people that seem to genuinely care for me. Not the ones I expected to hear from, but thoughtful people none the less.
To those people, thank you. Your thoughts are important to me, and special in a way that I may not express well some of the times.