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Monday, October 31, 2005

why's jane so excited?

click on the pic to see jane's official shirts... okay, maybe not official, but cool and unique and jane-ish just the same... special thanks to mr. huff for the photos!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

i'm glad to be back
in my own bed.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

((tadaima!)) last time i was in japan, marika and hikosawa-san took a lot of effort to try to explain what giri-giri meant, as they seemed to use it a lot. from what i gather, it means something along the lines of 'at the last second'...

i arrived to tokyo airport with about 2 hours to spare before my flight. cool, had a nice lunch with alan, can chill before my plane takes off, no problem. oh, except for the blinking red lights announcing my flight from NRT to LAX has been cancelled. panic sets in, and i practically jump on the lady walking around announcing customers of that flight to come to the front of the very long check-in line. once at the counter, they started to change my flight from tokyo to chicago, getting in to l.a. around midnight. uh, no, not going to work for me. okay then, how about to san fran and then l.a., arriving 10:30... at night. nope. eventually we found me a seat on a direct flight, arriving around the same time, but on another airline. and oh, they board in 10 minutes, they close the doors in 20, and it's security line, immigration line, and other side of the concourse-away. just go on over to that company and stand in that huge line and get your boarding pass...

can honestly say it isn't the first time you could have seen me frantically running through narita airport.

once inside my tiny middle-aisle, middle seat, i stayed quite awake until the touchdown in los angeles, giving my friends a call to come pick me up now and take me to the tournament? what's that you say? tournament? ah yes, the girl who thinks it would be hilarious to walk off the plane after a 10 hour no-sleeping flight into a karate tournament. hil-a-ri-ous, up until the point i got to the tourney site (we got lost on the way anyway) and was recruited into working the table. while doing that, they announced last call for all adult competitors. no prob, i'll suit up really quick and "warm up". (ha, right). i actually ended up pulling out a decent kata until the third to last move where my leg wobbled... oh well, at least the gold went to my teammate, though i don't know if it's very victorious beating a time-zone fatigued looney like myself.

that's enough giri-giri for me for today... we'll see what tomorrow (back to work!) brings...

Friday, October 21, 2005

the freshman
journey to japan, round #3 for me, has proven to be the most diverse adventure crammed into a 2 week period than i would have ever anticipated. i have visited with old friends in niigata, made some new ones in kyoto, and now i'm in the mountains in a small city called tsuru, currently home to 10 very rambunctious UC-students (read: loud foreigners), one of whom is my friend ji. admittedly, it was a bit of a culture shock for me... i was prepared to be in j-mode for this trip away, donning certain decorum, and knowingly ignoring other. but i now find myself the oldest and quitest in a group, gone from the college scene and seasoned in a world that hits the pillow before 2am and has very little interest in getting drunk and playing video games with my dorm-mates.
it's great to be with ji and to get her energy and see japan through her experiences; we went to class today and i was floored at her fluent japanese tongue. and we hopped on a train to peer through the thick mist at mount fuji, seeing as she lives practically at the base of the great beast, but the pictures probably will be nothing more than a white backdrop. it's nice to meet her friends and cook sukiyaki and okonomiyaki together, poking chopsticks at the dishes on the floor. but at the same time, i wonder where japan is in all of this, and i have to quietly step back from any inkling of "been there, done that", hush the "do you SEE what's out your back door?!" shouting in my head, and let these kids find it on their own.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

guest and honor
it's interesting to have switched from being the 'guest of honor' to just being a 'guest'. in niigata, there were several roles vying for space in my life, including interpreter and foreigner and friend and tourist, and some of them shoved out one for another. although it was great to be nostalgic and catching up with old friends and reconnecting and sharing the place i christened my second home, now i get to experience other places of this country with less roles to play, allowing for more of me to come out. i did the shopping thing in tokyo with chester, and now with jason and robin in kyoto, i get to experience that personal connection with a city so rich with culture.

it's more fulfilling for me to experience the wonder of this new place with robin and jason than it would be for me to wander on my own, simply for the fact that i can relate with robin on the struggles of being in love with a place you don't quite understand and are somehow always on the edge of. we hiked through a temple up a mountain of a thousand gates yesterday, we joined their friends on the rocks of the river to celebrate the full moon, we shed our clothes and sat under the stars in an onsen in the mountains last night (something i was never comfortable enough to do with my japanese friends). i had my doubts about continuing my trip for another week, wondering what my new role would be now that i wasn't hosting or being hosted to such a caricature. now i'm excited for the next part of the journey as much as i am relishing the present moments of discovery.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

and now it's overtime
my last visit to japan consisted of a only a week, and by day 5 i was realizing how short of time that actually is. i had so much more i wanted to do, so many more people i wanted to see...

this time 'round, it's different. i saw shannon off on her solo trek back to america, and was reflecting about what a full week we've had. i managed to see every single person i wanted to see in niigata... barely, but i did it. it came down to the wire, though, as shannon and i were hauling off to the bullet train and i instinctively turned my head to look into the office where setsuko used to work. she hasn't worked there for 2 years, but you know what they say about habits. i had been telling shannon that i was kinda sad; i hadn't really been able to reconnect with setty since i left japan the first time, and she was really the person i spent the most japanese-time with when i lived there. i paused for just a moment outside of her old office, reflecting on our good times, when a short-haired pregnant cute japanese woman (hobbled?) her way to me. setty happened to be at her old office, waiting to talk to a co-worker, when she mindlessly looked outside. we saw each other at the same moment, and from that instant, my japanese trip (round 3!) was complete. everything from then on is just bonus overtime : )

setty walked us to our train and we chattered a bit about life now, but there wasn't much either of us could say... we were too caught up in the fate of it all. but that's okay... it turns out we didn't really need words anyway.

Friday, October 14, 2005

onaka ga ippai!
shannon and i got to tokyo last night after spending 5 days or so in niigata with my homies, and boy are we stuffed. i think i have probably ingested more food over the past week than i normally do in a year. everyone keeps feeding us and feeding us and i think shannon just might explode any minute.

now that we're down in tokyo with chester, we might get back on track, which is a good thing. clark will be mad at me if shannon explodes; no one wants that. we've been having an AMAZING time so far, have some great pictures and awesome stories that i'll share soon.

in the mean time, smooches from the far east.

Friday, October 07, 2005

nihon e kaerimashooka?
tomorrow, i am returning to the land of the rising sun for the third time in my life, this time with someone to share all that was strange and wonderful and horrible and everything in between in a brief but impactful ingredient in who i am today...

i hope i don't lose her in tokyo station.

big ups to clark who is not only driving us to LAX, but also lent me is ipod-shuffle for my listening and traveling convenience. thank you!!! and a pre-emptive thanks to chris-monkey, who (ehem) should be picking me up from the airport upon my return. i hope. : \

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

chuugakkou deja vu
in an effort to recreate for shannon 'a day in the life of britt in japan' (uhh, minus the wet, lonely winter, the body image issues, and the granny bike, of course), we will be guest teachers at sekiya chuugakkou (j.h.s.) on friday of our trip next week (!!). my friend kaori, a teacher at sekiya, sent me an email to help us prepare for the day:

So this is a last information for your speach. Students are interested in.................

eating habit breakfast snack popular food How do you stay healthy? Tell us popular Hollywood stars.
Which Japanese food does agree with American? and not agree with?
difference between Japanese school and American school
American educational system
What is scariness in calamity in America?
Have you ever watched Japanese movie? What did you think about it?

Soon I can meet you!! I'm happy!!!

i was relieved to see "sex education" was not on the list...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

my own freud
these days i'm self-psycho-analyzing certain behaviors that have bubbled up to conciousness, namely the fact that i am totally lacking affirmation and attention in one HUGE area of my life, and am thus squeezing it out of contiguous aspects that aren't necessarily arenas that deserve or merit recognition.

step one is admitting, right?

it's weird to me to step back and observe behaviors in myself because it causes me to wonder "where the heck did THAT come from?!", due to the fact that on a normal, everyday basis, i consider myself the standard of normalcy (wink) and altogether pretty stable. so these little disruptions, though i know exactly why they're happening, throw me off balance enough to wonder the Why they're happening... after all, if i recognize it, and don't necessarily want to embrace the behavior, i should be able to knock it off, right? but maybe the healthy part is recognizing it, and realizing that it won't change until the situation changes... and some other strange neuroses takes over.

oh, i don't know. any psych majors out there??

Saturday, October 01, 2005

best comment of the day
toothless clerk at the quik-e mart as i'm getting my morning coffee:
"you had a couple of admirers earlier, the guys who left thought you were cute when you were coming in... one of them was buying alcohol and the other was scrounging for money."

awesome. it's only 8am... plenty of comment time left in the day...

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