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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Japan Journal 4: Massan's Ellie is Basically My Twin, and Other Adventures

Japan Journals part four! Get hype!
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This video is killing me. I am absolutely dying.
The guy just like, c'mon now.
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Today, I walked up to a door that looked as if it were automatic, but wasn't; no handle. no nothing. I just said "wacannai" and walked away. I don't understand, Japan.
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So, I was talking to my Dad on Skype today, and my Mum and brother were supposed to be back at eight from DC, and my Dad was just like, "Well, Mom said they'll be back by eight, but we all know that's not going to happen." It was hilarious.
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Speaking of DC, she posted a picture of my brother and his friend in front of the White House, and neither of them are smiling at all. Friend looks vaguely miserable, as if he might be thinking, "How did I even get sucked into hanging out with these people?" Ben has a vague almost-smile (which we'll just pretend is his dope face). It made me laugh.
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I love being able to Skpye with people from home every once in a while. My Dad said it makes him feel like the guy from 2001: A Space Oddyssy, who video chats with his daughter while he's on the space station.
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A conversation with my father:
Dad: So, Rolling Stone ran an article about Adventure Time
Me: Yeah, I read it. I believe it was titled, "Adventure Time: The Trippiest Show on Television"
Him: "Yeah, it was!"
Me: I remember, because I read it and thought, "this is the truest sentence that has ever been written. I must read this article"
Him: Yeah, those guys must have been on a whole lot of something.
I then explained to him how they have the character Lumpy Space Princess, but for short, they call her LSP. He found that hilarious. I think he and my brother might start watching AT together. So, my Dad is basically cooler that yours.
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"It's Not That I Didn't Understand What You Were Saying, I Just Wasn't Paying Attention" -- An Autobiography
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I've heard the Song "Boom Clap" played in two different stores this week, and every time I do, it makes me so happy. It reminds me of TFiOS, of going to The Night Before our Stars, of dancing around my living room to the song with Adora and Juno. I love that I can associate these memories with a song--and one that is popular right now! So cool.
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I mentioned Vlogbrothers today on Skype, and my Dad was like, "Wait, who? I don't think I know who you're talking about." And I was like, "DUDE. C'MON." FAULT IN OUR STARTS. GUY WHO WRITES BOOKS THAT I LIKE. SCIENCE MUSIC GUY." And he realized his mistake, quite quickly.
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I went to the record store today, and it was like the stuff of which dreams are made (no ending the sentence with a preposition here. We're not about to deal with your poor grammar). Just absolutely amazing. I wanted to walk out of there with everything in the store. Admittedly, I spent more than I probably ought to have spent, but man, it was worth it. So much Beatles, everything with the obis intact..GAH. I had the following conversation with the shop owner:
Dude: "You like The Beatles?"
Me: "I love The Beatles, but these are souvenirs for my father."
Dude: "Ah, you've chosen the ones with the obi..."
Me: "Yes, my Dad told me that those are the best ones!"
Dude: "How old is your father?"
Me: *Answers accordingly*
Dude: Ah, he's in the Beatles generation.
Me: Do you like The Beatles?
Dude: Yes! They were the first band in which I ever became interested.
......My Dad and this dude would totally gel. I feel like they would be my new brOTP. Except I would have to be there to remove the language barrier, which would be awkward.
He seemed happy that I came into the store, was very friendly, and sold me records, so it was a legit interaction, for sure.
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Me: Do you accept foreign cards?
Store Dude: "From where, China?"
Yes. From China. Because clearly, I am Chinese
His coworker just looked at him like, "Dude, c'mon."
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Me: I have the day off on Monday!
Mom: For Columbus Day?
Yeah, Mom. For Columbus day.
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So, I bought myself a tattoo-style bracelet (circa 2001 style, you know the ones I mean) yesterday, because 1. It was there, 2. I really wanted one, for some unknown reason, and 3. It was very reasonable priced. I showed my Mum, and she told me that when this type of jewelry first came out, a friend bought her a necklace like it, which she promptly wore on their trip to the beach. Apparently, as they were new, everyone thought she had a hardcore neck tattoo. Good stuff.
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"Man, the government sucks, and the UN never does anything good," they say to the girl planning on majoring in International Relations.
Good job, guys.
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On this episode of "all white people look alike," my family thinks I look exactly like the (super blonde) girl, Ellie, from the current NHK morning drama, Massan Ellie.
Meh, she's adorable, so I'm cool with the comparison.

Also, our names sound EXTREMELY similar when said in Japanese, so we're basically the same person.
I kind of want her to come to my house and teach me how to do my hair, because hers is always on point.
I really like the drama, though; I definitely relate to the "foreigner in Japan" aspects of it, which is kind of hilarious, as it's set almost 100 years ago. In some ways, not much has changed. People still assume I don't speak Japanese, stare at me; it may be a little bit worse, because they can stop you to ask for pictures! I don't mind that at all, though; it all feels rather glamourous XD But, it's interesting to notice that foreigners are still an anomaly here.
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Update: I liked the actress's page on Facebook, so we're basically best friends.
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This morning, I had opened my computer and had been surfing around for a little bit (I'm desperately trying to kick my addiction, but it's hard as ever), when I found a video that I wanted to watch. I grabbed my headphones and stuck them in my ears (thank you, earbuds from the Japanese dollar store, for saving the day when my fancy, noise-cancelling headphones completely crapped out), only to discover that "Just What I Needed" the The Cars had apparently been blasting out of them for the past minuet and a half. So, that was startling.
....The window was there from the night before. Apparently I make interesting music choices when I am tired.
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My host father keeps awkwardly suggesting that I cosleep with random family members, so, that's awkward. Like, yay for cosleeping, it's awesome forever and I am a fervent supporter, but I am not comfortable cosleeping with strangers? Also, I am an adult, so, there's that. So that's always uncomfortable.
He also won't stop talking to me in English. Like, he's say something in Japanese, and even though I SAY that I understand, he'll try to clarify with English, which I DO NOT WANT, because I'm trying to be immersed in Japanese and not speak English. My irritation about this ranges from, "Man, I have to find a way to nicely ask him to stop talking to me in English" to "I am literally going to stab you with something if you don't stop speaking English," so we're working on that. My current solution is to say, repeatedly and loudly, [わかります, 日本語 が だいじょうぶ] (I understand, Japanese is fine) over things that he says in English. He has yet to catch the hint. We shall see what happens.
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I bought myself some fuzzy, striped legwarmers, and they make my soul happy.
I love Japan. So much. I am so, so lucky to be able to spend time here. Every time I go to the store and see that everything is in Japanese, it makes me so overwhelmingly happy.
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 I went to the vet with my host grandmother and her dog today, and I met a very nice Japanese woman, who was there with her Pomeranian. I'm all for chatting up strangers, so I talked to her, and she complimented my Japanese, which was nice. One interesting thing is that when I go out with my host family, Japanese strangers often address my family with questions about me, rather than asking me directly (I understand this; it !an be intimidating to talk to foreigners, as they are uncommon in this area, and they don't know how much Japanese I can speak). I make sure to interject and say something at least somewhat intellectual, so that they will know that they can talk to ME directly. Everyone here has been very friendly, which is great.
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I went to the coolest antique store today! The old man didn't seem to have any organizational system, and everything was quite haphazard, but I was able to dig around and find some really cool stuff. I also found souvenirs for my grandparents, which my Mum has been on me about finding, so that was a satisfying moment. We all know that my Grandfather would just be happy with stickers, but whatever. I also found some great, vintage-y stuff that I absolutely love, so I was thrilled. And icing on the cake--I don't know if they guy was hype about me being foreign, or found it cool that I could speak Japanese, or what, but he gave me everything for free. Woah, foreigner perks intensify. A satisfying experience, to be sure. I'll be taking one of my Mum's handmade hats by his store later as a thank you.
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Me: How much are these cool signs?
Store Guy: More than you can pay.
...Thanks, man. It was disappointing, too, because they were really freaking cool.
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 So, apparently my grandmother passed away today? And I am reminded of a fond memory (weird that this is fond for me, but we are going to roll with it), so I thought I would write it down:
Last Christmas, over Christmas break, I went to the nursing home with my Aunt, father, and brother, to visit my grandmother. Nothing makes me more germaphobic and puts my hypochondriasis into affect more than a hospital-type establishment (I am legitly the most fearlessly disgusting person ever, eating crud off the floor and saying that germs will improve my immune system....EXCEPT for in a hospital type setting, in which I constantly wash my hands with Dr. Bronners and refuse to touch anything, lest I get ultraplague), so I had my sleeves over my hands and was refusing to touch anything, to the irritation of my brother and father.
 We went to visit my Grandmother; as always, she has the Catholic channel blaring in her room (my Aunt attempted, at one point, to change the channel; my Grandmother pointed, shouted 'that's the pope,' and then continued shouting it for the next ten minuets, even after the screen had changed. "Gosh, I know I'm not a Catholic anymore, but it's hasn't been THAT long," grouched my aunt good-naturally. "I know who the pope is."). My Dad sat down on the bed to relax, and went to lie down. Unbeknownst to him, there was apparently some sort of sensor on it, which was meant to let off an alarm when someone attempted to lie down or get off. It began blaring, to his irritation, and despite his careful attention to where he sat the next few times, he set it off twice more. Maybe you have to know my father to understand how hilarious this is, but his face, and the noise..my brother and I were trying to hold in our laughter without much luck. I remember this time with my aunt, whom I adore, my brother, with whom I always joke, and my awesome Dad, with much fondness.
I know that my Dad will be sad about my Grandmother, as will most of my family, so I wish them the best right now. She never could really remember me, and we never had a close relationship at all (on one particular trip to the nursing home, there was an "All about Me" sign posted outside my Grandmother's door. My Mom pointed out many errors on the sign; "What are you even doing, Mom?" Ben asked at one point. "Well, just look at this," she responded. A glaring one was the statement that she has five grandchildren; she has eight. She completely forgot Ally, me, and Ben. But whatevs. It made me laugh XD), but I am sending love to my family today, as they deal with whatever they may be feeling.
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My homegirl Alissa is amazing. She has a countdown on her phone, of how many days remain until I come home. On the one hand, I'm like, "AWWW," but, on the other hand, I say the countdown, and I was like, "Oh gosh, I only have that many days?! MUST DO ALL OF THE THINGS." So, it was good in two ways, I guess. A sweet reminder of how epic Alissa is, and a warning bell that I need to suck all of the marrow out of my favorite place on earth, because it may be a while until I return, and I'll be home before I know it.
Seeing Alissa (and my family, and friends) will ROCK! Leaving Japan is going to hurt. A lot. Gahhh, it's the Mysterium tremendum et fascinans, perhaps; I look forward to it, maybe not in awe, but certainly with slight happiness at seeing my family and friends. But leaving will break me, I know it.
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So, the Japanese students got their midterms back today, and they were legit one page, front and back. I was like, "Guys, C'mon. Mr. King's midterms were three hundred questions, and we has to be able to list the presidents in order. THIS is what y'all have been whining about for the past two weeks? Wimps."
"AND we had to walk uphill both ways. AND IN THE SNOW!"
Seriously, though, they were so freaking short. I was mildly surprised.

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