Sep. 29th, 09 · 7:16 pm
Hey to all my wonderful, devoted, adoring readers (that’s how I see you in my mind, let me live the fantasy)! Been busy getting moved. Finally, step one to ending the Summer of Suck is complete – moving away from home. What was only supposed to be a temporary stop at my aunt’s crib turned into an entire summer of dealing with my crazy family. Patience is a virtue but I’ve never been the virtuous type so, ya know, I was bugging there. On to the next chapter…
I’ve moved to Brooklyn, Bed Stuy to be exact. Got me a roomie. While I was living alone in Philly, I had two roommates over in Japan (and two this summer if you count my aunt and uncle). So I can deal with the roommate situation again, especially because I’m sort of new to the area. I had lived in Brooklyn before, East Flatbush, but only for a short period of time. That has nothing to do with anything right now though, because I have no idea where I am really. So if you’re in the area and want to put me on to some stuff (or want to get wasted), let me know!
The move itself was possibly the worst move I’ve ever undertaken, and I’ve moved a lot (from NY to Chapel Hill to Carrboro to NYC to Cary to Raleigh to Philly to Tokyo to NY to BK). It all started with renting the truck. I reserved a 10ft truck which was totally sufficient but when I got to the office, they only had 16ft trucks available. Ok, not only was there more room in the back, but the thing was taller and significantly bigger. See specs here. Whatever though, bigger is sometimes better and I was getting the bigger truck for the price of the smaller one. Lesson #1: Trucks are not like Value Meals. It is not always a better deal to go for the bigger option. So I’ve got my buddy Ihsan with me and we pull out of the rental lot heading toward my storage unit all set to load up and drive to BK. I swear, not three minutes away from the lot, before I even get a good radio station on, I hear this loud ass crackBOOM! OMG! I turn to the right and there’s no mirror on the passenger side! I have somehow knocked off the damn mirror! Driving ahead of me, Ihsan must have seen what happened and I saw him signal a side street for pulling over. After determining what happened and taking a few deep breaths, Ihsan walked back a couple of blocks to retrieve the mirror. The plastic mirror casing thing was intact, but the glass was all gone. It’s important that I mention that I am a good driver. I have driven a 10ft truck about three different times in my life with no incident whatsoever. So you can imagine how I felt at this point. Continue reading →
Jun. 18th, 09 · 12:37 am
I was in court yesterday and although I recently graduated law school I wasn’t there to represent anyone, nor was I there to chat with a judge or observe lawyers in action. I was there because I had to drive my mother. It wasn’t for anything too bad. She just had some tickets or traffic violations that hadn’t been paid and were probably some kind of violation of probation, I don’t really know because I didn’t really ask. Anyway, I go to take her and my uncle wanted to come along for the ride. We get there and it’s a small, town court in another county. Really small. My mom has to sign in and she sits in front waiting on her lawyer. My uncle and I pass through security behind her and for some reason unbeknownst to anyone, my uncle signs his name too. My mother yells at my uncle to quit writing his damned name because that’s the list that goes to the judge which he’ll use to call on the people there to go before him. With this knowledge, my uncle starts frantically crossing his n ame out. See, this idiot has been before this particular judge before and from what I could gather, they don’t have that great of a relationship. Plus my uncle thinks there’s a possibility that there could be a warrant for him in this county or some reason they’d wanna lock him up. Basically, signing his name down there was tantamount to turning himself in. What a retard, right? I don’t even know why he would volunteer to walk up in the courtroom knowing all of this ahead of time. Now, nothing happened. My mom got called, she and her attorney went up to the bench and got a continuance. Womp womp. I just had to point out my uncle’s stupidity for the gazillionth time. Continue reading →
Jun. 7th, 09 · 9:44 pm
You can’t always go home. I watched Grosse Pointe Blank all the way through for the first time today and John Cusack said that when he realized his childhood home had been turned into an Ultimart. He was home for his high school reunion (incidentally, I’m on the committee to plan my HS reunion right now) and people were all weird and asking where he’d been. I used to think my reunion would be cool. Now I’m like ugh. I digress…
Who says you can’t always go home? People always say that. Or do they always say you CAN always go home? I don’t know. The former is what I’ve come to realize. This is the most time I’ve spent at “home” since I left at 17. I’ve mostly been away because I was busy. I went to a school 5 states away, sight unseen, without a single soul I knew for miles. After that, I moved around then went to school again, this time closer to home but far enough away to make visiting inconvenient. Then I left the country. Even when I was geographically far from home, that wasn’t the only reason I stayed away. I just didn’t see much of a reason to return. My family is small and not very close-knit. There were no holiday celebrations to return to. No one calling and nagging because I never come visit. There weren’t any cool or interesting things to do in my little city anyway, so why go back? Visits were spaced months apart and mostly lasted for a couple of days.
Now I’ve been here about a month. I think I’m dying inside.
Sure, that sounds like I’m being way overdramatic and maybe I am. I bet my insides are just fine. What I do know, and this is no exaggeration, one of my life goals from here on out will be to never spend a significant amount of time here ever again.
What’s so bad, huh? I guess the problem is two-fold: my family and the city itself.
I have nothing in common with my family other than the fact that we share DNA and we lived together (off and on) for the first 17 years of my life. While that’s a lot and enough to bind most people for a lifetime, I have found that it is not enough for me. You know how they say you can love your family but not like them? Yep, I’m there. I don’t care how much “history” we have together because history is ALL that we have. Let’s examine my family that lives in the area (this is to the exclusion of my father’s side and my family outside of this city): Continue reading →
May. 22nd, 09 · 1:19 pm
Warning: self-pitying bitching ahead.
What’s the point of going to your graduation? I’d say there are two major reasons: (1) you do it for your family and friends so they can celebrate your achievement and be proud of you and stuff like that. (2) you do it for yourself so that you can have some kind of culmination, closure and celebration of your hard work. That being said, I probably shouldn’t have gone to my graduation.
Before I start my rant and complaining, I want to thank my friends who came to see me walk across the stage, especially those who traveled across states to do so. Everyone contributed in their own way (a ride, emergency funds, their apartment lol). Even though I had six friends there with me, I couldn’t help but be aware of the fact that I only had six friends there with me. Let me start from the beginning though.
Yesterday was really rushed, I felt. I had to take a bus from NYC down to Philly the day of the graduation. As of right now, I don’t really live anyhwere so I didn’t have a spot to stay overnight in Philly before the graduation. As soon as I got in the city, I had to get picked up and taken over to the bookstore where I was supposed to pick up my graduation regalia (cap and gown, hood and tassel). I had planned on having it earlier but was unable to get to Philly. They wouldn’t let anyone pick it up for me so I had to wait until the day of. Anyway, I get there and they tell me that they don’t have any regalia for me. EXCUSE ME? Naturally, I stopped dealing with that undergrad lackey and started talking to the managers. Phone calls were made, we searched for the confirmation, everything. No dice. Yo, I know I sat in my room in Tokyo and ordered that shit. Well they don’t let you walk in the graduation if you don’t have regalia. One of my friends had to purchase the $80 doctor’s gown set for me about 10 minutes before I had to be lined up. The stress of that whole ordeal sent me into tears which pissed me off because I was messing up my eye makeup and I didn’t want anyone to think I was crying because I was graduating cuz, well, that’s lame. Continue reading →
Feb. 14th, 09 · 12:10 am
Last weekend, the ladies and I went out to Kamakura and did some sightseeing. The cool thing about that area, which is about an hour away from the city by train, is that it’s easy to get around via bicycle. So we rented a few and rode around to the Big Buddha, Hase Temple and got our first look at Japan’s coastline. I totally forgot we were on an island for a minute there.
Bought our tickets for spring break. A bunch of us are heading out to Thailand in March so while I’ll be off the grid for a week or two, be on the lookout for updates and photos.
Speaking of photos, I’ve updated the Flickr stream (left sidebar).
Oh, and speaking of bikes, I went and bought one. Got it for ¥2,00o used which is pretty sweet since new they run around ¥11,800. In dollars I paid around $22. It’s a basic little “shopping bike” with a bell and basket on the front LOL. Everyone rides them here. I took the train out to Hatsudai to pick up the bike from a nice lady named Rika who was packing up to move to Austrailia with her hubby. It took about an hour to ride the bike back to Akasaka (home) through Shibuya and Roppongi. Good thing though, because I’m getting a little workout on and hopefully things will be in the right place come Thailand.
What else is up? Been going out and partying. Having lots of fun with my new Japan friends. Granted, most of them are not Japanese, but still. It’s Valentine’s day here already and we’re going out with some new folks for a 5-course dinner. Then out to nomihodai clubbing. Holla!
Things have gotten better. We’ve been here since Jan 7th and I feel much more acclimated and comfortable. Still, being away makes you appreciate home a lot more. I’ll be diving into some Cap’n Crunch when I get back, just you watch!
I’m sure there will be more updates in the coming weeks. Some interesting things are planned like Harajuku, a prison tour and maybe a trip to Korea. I know I haven’t been updating for a while but I don’t think anyone wants to hear me talk about boring class.
FYI, McDonald’s here doesn’t serve breakfast. You don’t know how much you want an egg mc muffin until you can’t have one!
Jan. 11th, 09 · 3:06 am
So yesterday we went on an outing to Shibuya. Before we got started, however, we stopped for lunch at a Japanese spaghetti shop. The staff were really nice, as they provided us with English menus as soon as we sat down. Guess they could tell from how we were just pointing at pictures. LOL. Anyway, the pasta was super good. Now, while you might be thinking it’s strange to go to Tokyo and eat spaghetti, let me tell you that part of the Tokyo experience is tasting all of the wonderful food they have to offer. Tokyo has restaurants and cuisines from all over the world, including the best French restaurants in the world outside of Paris!
Anyway, after lunch we took the train out to Shibuya, a neighborhood popular for shopping and entertainment. It was afternoon, so we just walked around and observed people, did some window shopping. When we first stepped outside of the station, we were overwhelmed by the amount of people out there. Someone said that Shibuya was sort of like the Times Square of Tokyo. We could totally see what they meant. Tall electronic billboards, throngs of people, folks handing out handbills in the street, music blaring from stores, oh, and a huge Starbucks.
Predictably, we grabbed our Carmel Macchiatos, Lattes and coffees and began to stroll up and down the streets. The feeling of the area was very upbeat and lively. The sun was shining so we felt good about that. We rolled into some department stores and noted all of the women at the makeup counters. By the way, Japanese women LOVE makeup. We went to a bathroom in the subway station and noticed every single woman stopping at the large mirror to apply blush, lipstick or mascara. That subway bathroom stop was also notable because HR was freaked out at her bathroom stall. While the stalls on the left had regular toilets, the ones on the right had squat toilets, basically a hole in the floor! I’ll do a separate entry later on Japanese bathrooms, but you can just imagine the look of horror on her face. Continue reading →
Jan. 8th, 09 · 11:18 pm
I am totally frustrated with the money situation. Tokyo is a cash town. While places take cards, you’re not going to get very far if you do not have cash on hand. Isn’t this the place where all the hot technology comes from? I’m pretty sure these people had a hand in creating the damned credit card machines so why they don’t use them is beyond me. Our only recourse is to withdraw cash from ATM machines which, in turn, dispense it in Yen. The exchange rate is something like 90.80 right now. So changing $400 will yield you something like ¥386 or something like that. The yen come in demonimations of 10,000, 5,000, and 1,000 bills. Then there are the coins that come in 500, 100, 50, 10, and 1 yen.
There are a ton of ATMs around but many only take Japanese bank cards or Chinese bank cards. The best ATM to go to is at the post office. Unfortunately, the post offices aren’t as numerous as you’d like. They’re also not 24 hours. On the plus side, there’s a post office branch right next door to school, so it shouldn’t be hard to get cash while over on that part of town. Continue reading →
Jan. 8th, 09 · 4:16 pm
It’s 5am as I type this and I can’t sleep. That’s probably because we all passed out at like 9pm. Why? Well Hello Leslie (HL), our third roommate, she had been traveling ALL DAY. See, she was on a different series of flights than we were and she ran into some cancellations. Oh, she lost her luggage too. HR and I spent all day walking around the city. My legs are shot, yall.
The first thing that sticks out in my mind about yesterday is the fact that the Japanese are really really nice. Like, freakishly nice. So nice, that folks leave their bikes outside without locks. So nice that they’ll tell you “thank you very much” about three times when you’re the one who ought to be thanking them.
We’ve had to do a lot of adjusting in terms of the simple cultural things you don’t really pay attention to. For instance, when me, HR, and DKLA (Dave & Khoa from LA) walked down the street together, well we like to talk. Somewhat loudly. Folks in Japan don’t really run around being boisterous and calling attention to themselves in that way. When we got on the train (which is like 4 levels underground) for the first time, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Take that SEPTA and NYC MTA! Did you know that everything was oriented to the left here? What I mean is that folks drive on the left side of the road and walk on the left side of the sidewalk. They ride the left escalator up and when they get on, everyone stands ALL the way to the left right away. Ever want to walk up the escalator and have to navigate around people all spread out? Not here. Once, I forgot where I was and stood out to the right of the escalator. HR was like “Girl! Get in line!” LOL.
I bet you already heard this, but until you’ve been here, you won’t believe how clean many of the streets are. Compared to Philly and NYC, hell… even Raleigh, the folks here keep things extremely clean. I guess that’s why the caretaker at our apartment spend like 20 minutes talking about garbage disposal procedures, complete with a colored poster he suggested we hang next to the refrigerator.
Speaking of the apartment, HR and I moved in yesterday morning. Moved in consisted of dragging our 3 suitcases a piece from our hotel to the apartment. Our caretaker is this cute little old man named Amayahi. He greeted us with a big smile then told us he could speak a little English. After which, he immediately proceeded to speak in Japanese peppered with 3 or 4 English words. LOL. We did a lot of nodding and saying “Hai/Yes”. However, we got through it and he showed us how to use the gas water heater (which we must turn on every time we want to use hot water), how to use the heating/cooling units, and of course, how to dispose of trash. Click for more of this very long post