Updates and Outtakes and Stuff that Breaks…(I am a mess)

今日は, dear family, friends, and whoever (meaning the random following of strangers that for whatever reason decided to follow this blog-hello new friends!) ! Maybe I should say good morning? Evening? I don’t know, can’t do time zones, man.

So first, it’s been just over three months since I came to Japan. Three months! That’s insane! That’s a third of the amount of time it takes for a human to incubate in the womb! The amount of time during a school’s summer vacation! Twelve times the maximum lifespan of a piece of cardboard or a box in my house until my dumb cat Dave finds it and eats it! (Dave, you’re a poop.)

And second, it’s been just under one month since I last posted something. What is wrong with me? I’ve spent a third of my time here not documenting anything *sigh*

Well, in no particular order, here’s what’s been going on for the past month that I’ve apparently been failing at terribly…

  1. The Eye Doctor
    • So it’s been approximately 10 years since I’ve last been to an eye doctor. The first time I went was when I was fourteen or fifteen and my mom (you know I love you) forced me into going just to make sure my eyes were okay. They were. I don’t like people messing with my eyes. I can’t even watch people put contacts in. But a few weeks ago, right before my rafting trip, the burning, redness, and itchiness in my left eye got so bad that my teachers thought that I had pink eye. They not so subtly hinted that they wanted me to go to the eye doctor.
    • Thankfully there is an eye doctor only a three minute walk from my house. But I hate how dependent I have to be on other people. Had to take my superviser along with me to act as translator and he was not so helpful with the translations. Bottom line is that I’m apparently allergic to some unknown plant that isn’t in Louisiana and they gave me a series of three different eye drops to do four times a day. I am not the master of eye stuff. I’d rather not go back to the doctor in Japan.
  2. Kobe Animal Kingdom
    • …was awesome! I went with my friend Ashley and we quite actually spent five hours there. Birds flew onto us. We stuck our feet into a pond with fish that nibbled at your feet. Among the crazy animals I befriended a cavalier named Suzuran-chan! I touched a kangaroo! I fed a red panda! It was five hours of heaven.
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  3. White Water Rafting in Shikoku
    • …was also awesome! It was a two-day, overnight trip to Shikoku, an island to the south of me that’s one of the four main islands in Japan. We road tripped about three hours from my neighborhood in a very cramped and tiny Japanese car, driving through Awaji island, over the Naruto whirlpools, and through Tokushima and Kochi prefectures. Met some awesome new people and had a blast rafting!  Our guides kept trying to purposely flip the boats, I at one point stood at the front of the boat while everyone else spun the boat and tried to knock me down (only lasted about 7 seconds), and I jumped off of not one, but two scary cliffs! The first one was probably about four meters tall, the second 8 meters tall. About twenty feet tall. At many points the other boats tried to splash each other and we all started spontaneously singing Queen songs.
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      Our transportation reminded me quite a bit of the Mystery Machine.
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      Found this little guy at the guest house we stayed at.
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      View from the guest house

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      We stopped for a rest in Awaji and got free Awaji onions!

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      The view of Kobe from Awaji island, the opposite side of the bridge from where I live. We’re looking at my house across the water!
  4. School Slavery
    • I’ve been slaving away for the past month drawing these pictures for my first year students’ oral exam. We’ve been practicing storytelling with pictures and comic strips in preparation for their standardized tests all term. We wanted to do this for the exam, but ran out of material. So my JTEs asked me to draw some original material. 8 new stories and pictures. Which was fine, because I thought they’d be in back and white like the ones we practiced with. Two weeks later, my JTE asks me to color them, too. Which would have been nice to know in the beginning. I ended up coloring them on my laptop because my JTE only had 8 different colors of colored pencils, none of which looked like natural colors that could resemble any kind of skin tone or hair color. I ended up getting paid to be a cartoonist for the better part of the last two weeks. Every time a teacher passed my desk (which is unfortunately at the end of the aisle where everyone can see), they’d give me funny looks or stop and ask what I was doing. It’s like come on guys, I’m not coloring just for the sake of having arts and crafts time at work! I’d post the end results, but can’t have students accidentally finding it, can we?
  5. The End of an Era (Speech Contests)
    • Also spent every waking moment of much of the past two months preparing my two ichinensei for the speech contest. A couple of weeks ago it finally happened. They did their best, and I was so incredibly proud of them! Unfortunately, they didn’t place (there were only five prizes, and the international school, of which every child who participated had an English speaking parent that they referenced in their speech, swept first through third prize), but I am proud of them regardless, and one of them even wants to try again next year.
  6. I found Tetsujin!
    • Testsujin is like the symbol of rebirth and strength for Kobe. I finally found him on my way to the speech contest.

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      For scale, look at the bicycles near his feet. And the buildings. Pretty dang big. 
  7. A spider made its home in the creepy alleyway that I use to get home and now I’m afraid to ever go there again

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    You can kind of see his web near the sun, but it’s literally all the way across the creepy alley and they spider is huge and I’m terrified. On a side note, it seems that my students are more scared of cockroaches than spiders. In what world should that be the case? Spiders are devil spawn. Cockroaches are just ugly. 
  8. I got this awesome hat in the mail

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    You know, to celebrate “I LIKE SPORTS!” but without actually knowing anything about the sport or why I like that team. “YEAH, SPORTS!!!”
  9. I stumbled upon this random but awesome autumn festival, akimatsuri (秋祭り)

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    I think they were praying for the harvest or something? I just wanted to go to the drug store and this was happening right outside my house. Really cool. 
  10. Home Improvement
    • Ever since I moved in, I’ve been obsessed with making home improvements. Alisha, I don’t know how you lived in this apartment with as little furnishings as you did for so long. I’ve basically been constantly rearraning everything and sprucing things up because I have a problem.
    • I stacked microwave on top of my mini-fridge, my toaster oven on top of my microwave and stacked my water pitcher and kettle on top of the toaster oven. The dish drain got moved to my food shelf.
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      I bought a new blender (because no offense Alisha the one you left me was kind of crap by my standards and couldn’t even break up a piece of a frozen banana and smelled like burning rubber whenever I tried to turn it on), and now the blender, coffee pot, and sugar and coffee containers are on my counter with plenty of space to spare.

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      I bought two biger trash cans with lids (to keep the fruit flies out) and moved them to the food shelf.

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      I bought a bigger shower shelf.

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      I finally found the one spot in the apartment where photos will stick and built me a nice photo wall

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      I bought sticky hooks and attached them to the very top of the wall to hang my LED lights up so they wouldn’t get caught in the windows anymore.

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      I bought tension rods and hangers to dry my laundry outside so I actually have room for a chair on my balcony now.

  11. Recontracting
    • My superviser gave me my form to recontract for a second year and I literally signed “yes” right after he gave it to me. Finally got around to giving it back to him last week.
  12. I won something from those annoying stuffed animal claw arcade games that nobody every wins at!

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    VICTORY IS MINE (1,500 or so yen later…)
  13. The Fire Table (Kotatsu)
    • I bought a kotatsu! It’s quite literally a fire-table. It’s like a square-shaped coffee tale that has a heater built into it on the bottom. The top, hard surface of the table lifts up, and you’re supposed to put a blanket under it, which traps the heat under the table and keeps your legs and feet nice and toasty. I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS TABLE, as much as it is humanly possible for a person to love a table. file_0014-copy
  14. My closet broke!
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      This happened a week ago and I still haven’t fixed it. 
  15. Delivery people that can’t do their job properly
    • There’s a magical thing called Cash On Delivery (COD) for Japanese Amazon and a few other things, probably. If you don’t want to use a credit card, you order the item and then give the delivery guy cash when he come to your door. If they miss you, they keep trying to re-deliver the item up to four times, and on the fourth missed attempt, they just send the item back. Pretty great, right? Except trying to figure out what time the guy/gal is going to come deliver yo’ stuff. Which is precisely why for this particular item (the kotatsu), I scheduled a delivery window of 6pm to 9 pm so you know, I would NOT be in school and could definitely make myself be at home to pay for the table. BUT. BUT!!!!! THESE STUPID, MORONIC, IDIOT, BAKA-delivery people APPARENTLY THOUGHT THAT THE DELIVERY WINDOW WAS NOT IMPORTANT! I get home at 4:38 from school, notice a missed all from a weird number (the delivery people) on my phone. Open my mailbox. What is in the mailbox? A MISSED DELIVERY SLIP. AN HOUR AND A HALF BEFORE MY WINDOW EVEN STARTS. I go upstairs, blood starting to boil at this point. I open the door. Guess what’s not blinking? Not alerting me of a missed visitor? MY CREEPER DOORBELL WHICH FLASHES OBNOXIOUSLY AND TAKES STALKER PHOTOS OF THE PEOPLE WHO RING MY DOORBELL. THEY DIDN’T EVEN GO UPSTAIRS TO MY DOOR TO TRY TO DELIVER IT. My blood was at that point beyond just boiling and was completely spilling over the sides of my hypothetical pot. I then proceeded to spent about an hour googling how to make an online account for this delivery service because my last phone call in Japanese for my couch delivery was a total disaster, and finally rescheduled the delivery for the next day between 12 and 2. Thankfully they came right smack in the middle of this day’s window, but when I take a Friday off, I generally don’t like spending it waiting all morning for a delivery that should have been made the previous day when I could have been out doing other things.
  16. A Halloween party!
    • This was the same day as the off-day I took waiting on the kotatsu, and I spent much of it debating whether I wanted to actually go. I did, and ended up using my cat Mardi Gras mask as a costume because I’m lazy, and had more fun than I thought I would. This international bar that the party was at wasn’t really doing the “bar” thing right (They had a one-by-one line), but it was still fun. This random middle aged guy (that my friend had actually met at Costco the previous week, though this guy, who we will call Not-Costco, did not remember until an hour later) started talking to us, and then Not-Costco bought us martinis (too strong for me personally) and awkwardly talked with us for the next hour. Then Not-Costco went on his merry way and two Japanese guys swooped in and started talking to us. We exchanged Line IDs. Then a different Japanese guy came over. Then the original two swooped in again when he left. Apparently we screamed, “random dudes come talk to us!” for some reason?
  17. My laptop broke!
    • Upon coming home from Halloween party, I open my laptop to find this:file_0023-copy
    • After a full 24 hours of struggle with no immediate solution and several people’s help (Josh, Adam, Rebecca, wonderful Neighbor Steve who fixed it for good–THANK YOU EVERYONE), I kinda-sorta-not really fixed it. Basically, my computer kept looping back to this screen-the “infinite automatic repair loop,” and no matter which option I chose I could not access my desktop. Magical, knowledgable Steve worked his magic and helped me reset my computer, which was the only thing that worked. My documents were salvaged, but all of my apps, settings, extra programs, games, music are gone. Microsoft Office also won’t let me download Office on this laptop without upgrading to  Home membership for $99 because my tablet is now conveniently classified as a PC and I am only allowed to have one PC on the personal plan. YAY. -_-
  18. I hit my head on a frying pan.
  19. Diallo’s visit
    • My friend from middle school, who conveniently started JET as a CIR the same year as me, came to visit and we had a lovey day of eating vegetarian food, going up the obsevation deck by city hall, and going to Kobe Animal Kingdom (round 2 for me)! Thank you for visiting, Diallo! 🙂
  20. Christmas Plans
    • I don’t want to get on an overseas airplane for a VERY long time. I physically did not handle the flight over here well. I felt sick. I ached everywhere. I was super dehydrated the whole time no matter how much I drank. I only managed to sleep for one hour out of the fourteen hours of that flight. I spent most of the time staring at the flight map screen wondering, “Are we out of Texas yet?” “Are we out of Nevada yet?” “Are we out of California yet?” “Are we out of the U.S. yet?” “Are we at least halfway over the Pacific yet?” “PLEASE GOD ARE WE ALMOST THERE YET?”
    • Needless to say, I want to wait until a sufficient amount of time has passed before I try to go home. Maybe next summer I’ll give it a whirl. Maybe. But in lieu of going home for Christmas, and since apparently all of my friends who are staying will be occupied with parents/boyfriends/girlfriends/whoever, I decided I’m just gonna go somewhere. I can’t go to the Snow Festival in February because I don’t have any holidays lined up that week, so I’m going to go on the Great Northern Japanese Excursion for Christmas instead. Hokkaido, Aomori, and whatever else I can hit up in a two week period.

Phew. I think that’s all. I will try my best to not wait a whole month to post the next time something happens. I should really try to aim for short and sweet more frequently instead of novels once in a blue moon. But until next time everyone, and I hope you have a good evening! Morning? Whatever?

またね!

-Erin

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