Friday, July 22, 2011


This is what Japan does to me sometimes. But anyway, let's get to the WHY:

On Wednesday, after Japanese class, I was talking with Matto as he smoked outside (as we usually do) and complaining about one of the man-childs that is in our Japanese class. We're planning a picnic-nomikai for our N-Class and since he wasn't there Wednesday, we were praying to karma gods that people would forget to inform him of our shindig. Unlikely. However! In the middle of talking, N-sensei comes rushing up with this really attractive guy, shoves him at me, and says "Remember when we were talking about gokons and you said you wanted to go on another? Well, here is a fireman from the Nangoku fire station who will help set one up for you and his colleagues!"


Obviously I was SUPER EMBARRASSED! He tried to figure out a date on the SPOT but luckily I pulled out my keitai and managed to sputter out, "Let's exchange numbers and figure this out over e-mail." since I obviously don't know when all my friends would be available for this sort of thing. But, YEAH. I can't believe that N-sensei actually listened to what I was saying in our before-class-tutoring-sessions and carried through with her offer (she had said, "I'll introduce you!" but I've gotten used to Japanese people's offers being rather empty)! The guy I got the number off of is married with kids, but he's gonna help set this up and has already been e-mailing me potential dates! EXCITING! <3

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I'm getting sooo excited about my trip to Tokyo!!! When I first saw the show and line-up on FND, I jokingly thought, "Oh yeah, I'll take a trip to Tokyo JUST to see this show!" But honestly didn't think I was going to go. Three days to departure (I'm leaving Saturday night) and I'm getting SUPER pumped! I even convinced Matto to go to Tokyo so we can see the show together (he's going Thurs-Mon, I'm going Sat-Weds). I've never been to any live houses in Tokyo yet, so this'll be an interesting experience... but even so, we know like, HALF of the bands playing on Sunday afternoon so it can only be amazing. I'm also going to be delirious from arriving on the over-night bus Sunday morning.... but still! I can't wait to see a GREAT show, and then hang out with my friends arriving the same day in Tokyo for orientation!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

There's no place like home...

Typhoon, you make my house seem like it will fly away. The wind is so strong, and the rain so hard.... BUT I STILL HAVE FUCKING WORK. Why Japan works like this, I will never know.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Three day weekend!!

At the castle~
Saturday me and So went to Matsuyama by taking the back roads. Lots of soft-serve (from slow old ladies), beautiful views, sunshine, stuffed baguette dolls, and some live turn coat!! Also, a very VERY stupid and confused moment by yours truly when So told me there was a Subway in the mall and I thought she meant a SUBWAY subway, not the restaurant. Wow...

Yasu beach
The new Chaotic Noise!
Sunday was a trip to the beach, lounging in the sun, a great show at the NEW and much much bigger Chaotic Noise (I got jacked in the face by Takao and now have a lovely bruised lip... which I completely forgot about until this morning), and a super fun uchiage which involved me getting boob-grabbed by Yuu and my feet washed (seriously WTF) by a bunch of the guys in Pyramid State (they used those izakaya hand towels to do it..). Also, the "Born and raised in Brooklyn" bro/guy who works at Helluva Lounge in Kobe who seriously came out of nowhere. It was weird having an "undercover American" in the room with us. lol

After much drunken ness and much noise.
The guy in yellow was an undercover American. lol

Friday, July 15, 2011


I had a weird realization during second period with my junior high first graders today. My JTE was handing out their summer homework, and I started to get..... jealous? Is that even the word for it? I just had this sudden desire to ALSO be given homework.


I think that was my realization. I miss studying for a test. I miss studying things I REALLY REALLY loved to learn about. I mean, I'm studying Japanese right now, and I LOVE it... but studying for a test or homework gives one more of a sense of accomplishment than just sitting and repeating vocab words to yourself. Sure, I get really excited when I can omoidasu some new vocab or grammar point in a conversation with friends, but it's not the same as seeing physical EVIDENCE of your progress through tests, homework, and grades.

I just got the new issue of J-Life, the free magazine for foreigners that is published and this month they have a HUGE list of colleges/universities that have foreigners attending them. My excitement for going to the Center was reignited with the prospect of perhaps attending Grad school in Tokyo after going to the Center. I wanna go back to school!! I hate the loans, the broke-ness, the long hours of no sleep.... but I love feeling "full"after studying something I like, and feeling accomplished because I just widened my view of the world by a few more inches. GUH! I can't wait to go back to school! :)

Tonight is movies and beer with Matto! I told mr. DJ man I met last week that I had a "nomikai" to go to and can't go to his DJ event because I just don't wanna spend the money (or time) going to a club when I'm gonna be heading off for a day trip to Matsuyama at 9 Saturday morning. :P oh well!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yum yum yum

Crack Bars (AKA pecan/kurumi bars)
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
11/2 cup flou
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans/kurumi

1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Cream butter and sugar together and blend in flour.
2. Using fingers, press the dough into a 9x11 pan and bake for 11-12 minutes.
3. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the hot, baked crust. Try to use gravity to make sure the kurumi are evenly distributed. Pushing them around may break-up the crust. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Makes 20-24 bars.

Seriously though, this recipe of my mom's is like CRACK. Everyone who eats them can't get enough. I'm amazed that they even stand up to Japanese standards of dessert (because of the whole not liking too-sweet things). I think it's because the sweet isn't over whelming and they're soft (I've had lots of reactions when I bring in a tougher cookie. I guess they're just used to soft ones here). I made these Sunday for my 5th graders today. They were giving me somen for lunch so I felt like I needed to contribute. I also made a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting for Nat-chans birthday Saturday. I forgot to take a picture of that, but I'll post the recipe some time.

I was also proud to make my very own VODKA SAUCE today. At Inokuchi yesterday, I went with the first and second graders to pick tomatoes. To say I was allowed to pick a lot is an understatement... I had too many for a family of 5 to comfortably eat! SO! In addition to keeping some for salads this week, I decided to make vodka sauce (had 1/3 of a bottle laying around...). I used 1/2 an onion and 7 cloves garlic, blended them and started frying them as I blended a bunch of tomatoes (I think that the resulting blended tomatoes came out to be 4-ish cups). Added the tomatoes, 3/4 cup vodka and 1/4 cup soy milk plus lots of spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, corriander leaf...)! Boiled it all until it was thick, and bottled it for future use. :D

Shiyakusho Monday when an impromptu parade went down.
My 6th graders at Ioki doing suna-e (sand drawings)
My iPhone has basically turned into my main camera. I don't feel as put-off carrying it around (obviously) and going to the picture function is so much easier than turning on my point-and-shoot and waiting for it to take a picture. I'm also in love with instagram (as is obvious when looking at my tumblr photo blog). I'm able to document so many more interesting little moments because of it (which is making me think of a fun photo project I could do with it).

Friday night was another night-out with the girls. We went to Tanuki for all-you-can-drink (2500 yen for drinks and food) and then went out to a few bars (A-chan's circle bar in Hirome and York, my fav American-style bar). Once it was kinda late enough, we headed over to One Love. Luckily it was free, because the girls left after maybe an hour because there was just no one there. I was getting chatted up by this DJ guy so they left me at the club to go home. I talked to the DJ for awhile, and then talked to the bar tenders for awhile. Everyone was so young!! I couldn't believe it! They were all MY AGE (22)!! That's just unheard of around here. Anyway.... DJ man asked for my number (I blame it on the hot dress I was wearing) and we danced until 4AM where I was too tired to keep going (the random free shot of tequila at one point probably didn't help) so I went to sleep in my car until 7AM when I drove home, made a cake for Nat-chan while snoozing, and waited until noon when we were supposed to meet up and make me a table for my house! Saturday was a great day. The sky was beautiful! We built my table at Nat-chan's dad's house and then went swimming in the river. After, we went to her mom's house to have dinner and chat. It was really nice getting to get to know her mom :)  We also had cake and then went back to Ryoku-chan's place to watch Whip It. Nat-chan also opened the present I got her (2 volumes of One Piece in English) and really liked it. Good Saturday~

Thus far, this week has been really really lazy. Monday, I basically had anti-work because I got to go swimming, study, eat lunch and pick tomatoes. Nothing stressful! Also, when I got back to the BOE, there was a parade going on, and a high school girl was doing live calligraphy in front of the city office. WTF. Sometimes, feeling like I live in a circus town is really fun and refreshing and reminds me of why I came here. :) (Of course, there are those times when I wonder WTF I'm doing here.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Today is tanabata (and a rather bleak, rainy one at that), which is the festival/event based around the "meeting of two lovers" that are represented as two stars in the sky. It's probably best to just Wiki that rather than have me get into some sort of weird explanation... but the fun part of the day is that you're supposed to write wishes on pieces of paper and tie them to trees. During Japanese class last night, we all wrote out two wishes and tied them to the tree in the international center. In all the years I've been studying Japanese, I've never done this before! I've only ever read about it or seen pictures/video of people doing it... so I know exactly what you're supposed to write and the style in which you write it (〜ように), but have just never performed the ritual. Not terribly exciting, but it was nice to write out a goal I want to attain. My wishes were:


The other fun thing we did in Japanese class is talk about this letter writing contest. Along the theme of 「明日」you're supposed to write a letter no more than 40 characters long. Our teacher wants us all to enter the contest and so she was showing us love letters from a book where all the letters were within the constraints. Many were really lovely and cute. I want to share a couple of the letters and maybe practice writing my own today.

(France isn't far, My heart can't reach you, so your heart is far)

(On that day, at that time, I couldn't run fast enough. Oh how you cried.)
(Yesterday I sent my feelings. Today my love reaches out. Tomorrow, I await your heart.)

("Aren't you cute" you said, and unintentionally, I acted as such.)

(What's difficult, more than not being able to see you, is not being able to imagine your smiling face.)
So many cute/funny letters (though that last one made me a bit misty... ;__; )!! Anyway. Enough mushy-ness for one day!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th of July

I've never actually NOT been in the US for 4th of July. Despite the fact that it rained right after we lit off all the cheap CHEAP (and short lived) sparklers I bought at Marunaka (and filled my garage with smoke), it was a fun 4th of July. Since it was MF, I made vegan potato salad, ramen-noodle salad, vegan corn bread, and vegan banana/choco/peanut butter ice cream. Of course, beer was also consumed and many silly dad jokes were told. All in all, it was a fun holiday with my American friends. The only thing missing was that Matto didn't bring over his Bruce Springsteen record to play on repeat.

One last point of interest. Yesterday I went to the Ioki Hoikuen and watched my future first graders dance around, sing, and play taiko. I've never had so many of my students be quite so excited to see me before... As soon as I got to the school, three of my third/fourth graders came running up with their arms open to hug me! I also had one of the CUTEST first graders, Momoka, drag me into the haunted house with her since her mother was apparently eating and too busy to go. After the festival, I went home and watched the movie, "少年メリケンサック" with De-, which is about a girl working for the music industry that gets pulled into the world of punk music. It was WAYY too real to life (actually) and me and De- kept exclaiming every time a new character that acted/sounded like/LOOKED like one of our Kochi punk friends came onto the screen. It was basically the story of our weekends here (and the story of Aggression in about 15 years, lol Hiro and Yousuck included). I highly recommend it~

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hitori Bochi No Yoru

I've been trying to go places by myself more often these weekends. I guess it's one of those, "I need to stop relying on friends to give me confidence to meet people and meet some new people myself" kinda things. This last weekend, I hung out with Ai and her friend that she invited over last minute. We made dinner and watched "10 Things I Hate About You" and some of Princess Mononoke. It was fun just chilling and chatting about TV, movies, and drinking games (me and Ai were drinking some Sparkling Mead and wished that the friend could drink but he had to drive back to Nangoku). Once they went home, I was still feeling awake so I went to visit Akira at the bar. He is one of my favorite bar tenders of all time so I went to take a drink and chat with him. Although I got roped into sitting with this girl who's an English teacher in Kitagawa for an hour... her group paid for my drinks and then I got to sit at the bar with Akira the rest of the time. We talked about music, because I always thought he looked like a 'likes Hard Core' kinda guy but actually really likes quiet music. I'm going to make him a mix CD with some Toe on it. :)

There was some sort of festival going on in the shopping arcade that I walked around for awhile to kill time before the show.
Hoshizora Jett, Ehime's cool live spot.

Saturday, I had to get up early to help Sea get her new iPhone. It took us three hours in the apple store to hear the spiel and get the phone activated.. just in time for her to go to Canada Day in Geisei, and for me to hit the road and drive to Matsuyama. While the show I went to see was really great and TOTALLY more my type of music than the one in Kochi this weekend, my car sounded like it was on the verge of breaking down, and at one point I WATCHED as the gas slowly depleted itself before my eyes. It was 1AM and Japan is not well-known for 24 hour gas stations. Luckily, I found one off the highway (with the help of the NICEST toll booth guy ever) and got enough gas to get home by 3AM. I was exhausted and decided NOT to go and help with Oosouji the next day at the taiko place (sorry genji-sensei~).

Turn Coat, Mall's other band in Ehime

On Sunday I had a lovely soup curry lunch and coffee with De- in Aki and then went into the city for the monthly "Kochi Artists" meeting I'm going to start going to. It's just a group of us foreigners that want to get some inspiration, meet some Japanese artists, and maybe do a few group shows. I'm excited for future meetings, and have been working on a blog for the group so we can keep track of gallery shows, museums, supply shops in the city, and inspire each other to do some artwork~ I also was FINALLY shown where the infamous Graffiti gallery/art shop was (I've tried to find it soooo many times with various people) and was even taken to a cute record shop (got a High Standard record). Overall, good, chill weekend with lots of feel-good moments and introspection. Sometimes being hitori bochi is necessary to re-assess the way you've been living your life and to re-organize what is really important to you.

View out the back of Graffiti, the infamous gallery/art shop I've tried to find at least 10 different times.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Helloooo July

The thing I miss the most about not being in school, and about being in a small city like this is art and art culture. Not to say that Kochi doesn't have an "art scene." There's the Kochi Museum of Contemporary Art (got to see a Pop Art exhibition there) and they have a bi-monthly pamphlet that comes out with different gallery openings and things I could go to (though I haven't yet)... It just doesn't feel like a place with a lot of art, though. That, and I'm a photographer and while there are exhibitions, there haven't been ANY photography ones. Mostly print/painting/sculpture and a lot of very traditional/cultural work.

This Sunday, a bunch of artsy people I know are getting together in the city to discuss inspiration and what inspires you. They had their first meeting last month, but I wasn't able to go (meeting time was set up last-minute the day before). I think this is a wonderful idea. I've been having a lot of trouble inspiring myself to do the time of fine-art photography I was doing constantly through my four years of college. It doesn't help that I don't have the sort of resources I used to have at school either (huge digital and chemical print labs, supply stores a short drive away, a faculty to give you advice and criticism... my Nikon film camera). Hopefully, all of us art-majors-turned-English-teachers can inspire each other into producing some work and not just giving up. This is all to say, I came across this wonderful illustrator, Ismay Ozga that I wanted to document for future reference. Her illustrations are gorgeous and I really love the simplicity of her line and color. Her photography also reminds me of my work, in the way that she photographs women in very dramatic ways. Fashion-y, but also really emotional.

Anyway. Another rainy Friday. Me and Ai are gonna go to dinner and then I wanna visit Akira at the bar. Hopefully tonight can be entertaining even though I'm not dragging my ass all the way into the city.

One of my Senior Art Exhibition photos. Man, I miss photo shoots...