I Quit!

Just like that, it’s done. Years of wondering what if, and now a decision has been made. I am scared, I won’t lie. And I feel a lot of guilt. I feel I’ve let people down who needed me, but I know that in the end, I cannot serve them well if I’m not true to myself, and thus I’ve made my decision.

At least leaving Japan should be easy. There have been 5 earthquakes in the last 24 hours, and it might as well be 5 million – it’s too many. I’m not miserable, I’m just over it.

I’ve also developed a deep and relentless longing for bread and cheese, despite having ready access to bread and cheese. Is it really, really different from Germany? Somehow, yes. My body knows, my heart knows. Take me back to cheese and the people I love! It’s interesting because those are the things that comfort me, and they are not things that are risky. However, my soul is really torn between longing for comfort, and needing a future that is packed with challenges and excitement. I don’t want to go backwards, but I’ve got to find a balance. Here is what I know for sure: I want to keep learning, always; I have to. But, I don’t want to do it alone. I’m okay with it being difficult, but I should not feel isolated from the world, which I often do here.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs from folks who travel all the time, and I think that is not what I want to do. I think it’s an interesting life, but a lonely one. At the same time, I love being places where I can’t help but constantly learn things, simply because of the environment and situations I’ve placed myself in. So how to I reconcile this? I have no idea and guess I will have to find out. This is the jumping off point on my journey. I’ve walked to the edge of the cliff and lowered myself over by my fingertips. The only thing left to do is let go, and take the risk.

Update!

Hooray for all the Presidents! I am celebrating the heck out of this holiday by staying at home and studying. It’s a good thing, though, because I needed to get out of “go-mode” so that I could do a little bit o’ blogging for ya! I apologize in advance, because if my schedule doesn’t change, I will not be doing much blogging until my class is over. So what am I up to? All sorts of things!

1) I am taking a course on Modern Poetry and have to read and write papers. I am 2 classes away from finishing a second bachelor’s in English. I started doing this because I love reading, and now I kinda hate it. But I will finish.

2) Fightin’ Feb! Basically, I am on a one month diet, and working out 8 times/week with excellent results!  This is tied in with the last thing…

3) Roller Derby! I’ve been skating a lot and we had another bout on Feb 12th. It was a pretty big deal and we had more spectators than we had room for.  Our team joined up with another team and we mixed up players and bouted against one another. I was very nervous the night beforehand because everyone was taking the competition SO SERIOUSLY. The good news is that my team’s coach played me a lot! I was in just about every other jam, and I got to be the jammer, like, 8 times! I had so much adrenaline rushing through me that I didn’t feel any pain and now I really cannot remember what happened all that well. But we WON! YAY!

If you’re curious, you can watch the first couple minutes of this video to see me jam. I’m the jammer for the red team at the beginning. I don’t get lead jammer, but because I passed their jammer, I got 5 points! WOOT!

If none of this makes any sense to you, start out by watching this:

And here is the video from my bout:

4) Traveling! I’m heading to Okinawa next week. I’ll try to do some fun stuff and write about it for you. I will also make sure to get the biggest, most ridiculous dessert treat I can concoct at Yogurtland! So far, nothing has beat my first time.

Isn’t she a beaut? So much to look forward to!

Fujiyama Mama!

Woodblock made ca. 1930 exactly the same way a...
Image via Wikipedia

One of the greatest disappointments of last year was that I did not get to climb Mt. Fuji. I didn’t realize that it’s only open to climbers in July and August, and there simply was not a reasonable time to go do it. But this year…I am determined! Not only Fuji, but thanks to the fun Japanese trend of being a “yama girl,” I’m ready to making hiking a fabulous new hobby of mine. So what’s a yama girl?

Yama means “mountain” in Japanese, so it’s a girl who hikes and wears adorable, colorful clothing. Typically, it’s boots with tight and leg warmers, and some type of skirt or shorts, then, either a puffy jacket or vest over a bright shirt. It’s practical, it’s fun, it’s… SUPER EXPENSIVE. I started out by looking for funky hiking stuff online and found almost nothing. Then, I realized most of these items are made for a Japanese market, so I googled sporting goods stores, and went out in Tokyo, also hoping to find derby clothes. What I found was a street with about 50 stores on it, mostly dedicated completely to snowboarding. Then, I stumbled upon an outdoor mecca, and the yama girl stuff was everywhere. Oooooh! I was so excited! I ran up to a puffy coat like a moth to a flame. How much is it? $600? What the #%*???  There was almost nothing at all in the store under $50 at all, to include bandannas, socks, etc. It’s true that the dollar is weak against the yen now, and Japan is an expensive place, but c’mon!

I’ll have figure out a thriftier way! I did find some cheap fair isle leggings and the PX and I got a puffy 80’s Adidas vest on clearance, so I’ve started. Now I just need to get outside!

Further Reading:

http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/articles/crazy-mountain-girls-tokyo

http://www.webleague.net/korekire/wear/outdoorstyle.html

http://www.thegearcaster.com/the_gearcaster/2010/11/i-want-to-be-a-yama-girl-too.html

Shoo-ooes!

I recently went to my first Meetup, via www.meetup.com, to see an exhibit of Vivienne Westwood Shoes in Tokyo’s elegant Omotesando Hills . I thought it would be a nice way to see if meetups were worthwhile, and to check out something interesting. I’ve always thought of Vivienne Westwood as one of the pioneers of the original “punk” look, but that’s about all I knew. They had a lot of background on her at the event and it seems she and Malcolm Mclaren sort of engineered and styled the Sex Pistols, which seems a decidedly un-punk rock thing to do, but perhaps I don’t understand it very well.

The meetup group consisted of 22 people, about 75% Japanese. After perusing Lady Gaga’s shoe closet the exhibition, we went to a nearby restaurant and had some drinks and appetizers, and mostly spoke about cultural differences, chiropractors, and a little about art. No one mentioned punk rock, so clearly they are not going to be life-long friends of mine.

It was pleasant enough, and a good way to get out and see and learn new things. Like, for example, this pair of penis shoes (prolly NSFW). While looking at them, a conversation about how to walk up and down stairs in something like that led to me learning that Australians call pointy shoes “winklepickers,” which is adorably strange, and my word of the day.

The Winner!

I like to play a little game with myself called, “let’s see how long I can wait before going to a grocery store,” and I’m pretty sure that this weekend, I won the game! Last night when I came home and wanted to eat something, there really was nothing, other than some ginger hard candies, peanut butter, mayo, and honey. Don’t worry, I did not eat those things. I also did not eat breakfast, although a nice PB and mayo ball was sounding more and more delicious as time passed.

This is not about dieting. It’s about how annoying groceries are, and how wasteful I can be. Sometimes it seems that my life can really be distilled down to me taking things in and out of my apartment. Buy groceries, bring inside, take trash outside, repeat. This will always happen, but with how difficult it is to sort trash here, and how far away I have to park, I dread both the “carrying in” and “carrying out” portions of this process. So here’s my best plan: breakfast, every day, is oatmeal with peanut butter and honey. Lunch is eaten out or at the office. Dinner is a can of soup, a protein shake, or nothing. Then all I have to buy is oatmeal and soup. And if I bump into Ryan Gosling on the streets of Tokyo tomorrow, I can just run off with him and not have to worry about milk rotting in my fridge.

I *might* need a housekeeper. Also, let it be known that I literally live above a grocery store.