Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Imaginary Date

Am I wrong to enjoy a crowded commuter train ride in Tokyo?

Maybe I'm the only one who has the "imaginary date" fantasy of being surrounded by several / many adorable Asian men?

(note: "imaginary date" fantasy means something I dare not express in mixed company! ;) )

Friday, May 21, 2010

Receiving a Lecture

Last Saturday night, I spent some time with a friend-boy of mine. (note: friend-boy...a friend that is a male, more than just a platonic friend, but not quite a boyfriend.)

My experience with this particular friend-boy has always been positive. He is funny, intelligent, clever, quirky, talented, and has always been kind to me. Certainly I had already realized he is a strong personality - and he holds disdain for people he feels are close-minded or posers.

So, about three months of shiny, happy fun...
But last Saturday....not so much fun. I think the entire night was a lecture of some sort...

"You need to join a gym. Lose weight. Lose it fast!"
"And learn Japanese! You live in Japan but don't know it? Learn it!"
"Did I mention you should lose weight?"
"And learn hirigana - should only take you a day to learn them!"
"If you lost weight Japanese men will like you more!"
"And you can't just speak English everywhere!"

I between these statements, he made some other general conversation. But if
he smiled once the whole time, I can not recall it.

Then he left abruptly to go home.

In fairness, he did say he needs to join the gym and lose weight - pshaw! Maybe 2.5 kg.
And he reminded me that he had to learn Japanese when he moved here.

BUT, he is from China! Doesn't knowing 9000+ kanji give you some advantage? He just learned new pronunciations - but already knew the meanings. Hell, he only had to learn new pronunciations for 2000 of them.

And I am quite sure that years of writing kanji, and having a brain that is used to a pictorial method of language, must be some advantage in learning those cute squiggly kana!

And I uhm...I joined the gym and contacted a teacher for Japanese lessons...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Is it Worth My/Your Time?

When given an opportunity for a new work assignment or project, many of us just look at the amount to be paid or salary. If the number looks good, we accept. Consideration of more than just money is not specific to Tokyo, but in such a large city and with lengthy commute times - this consideration becomes important.

Recently I accepted a job assignment. At initial glance, it seemed great. First, the job was teaching at a Senior High School - this is my ideal job setting. The pay, while not super high, was acceptable. For ease of this stories calculation examples, let us say the pay was $100 per day.

My work day was to be 8:30-4:00pm with a one-hour lunch. Okay, simple division...$14.28 per hour. It's "okay" pay - plus it is valuable "in Japan" experience!

But I had commuting cost; $7 per day. So, pay is actually $93...divide by hours...$13.28 per hour.

Wait! how much time am I spending commuting? 1 hour and 45 minutes each way! Total of 3 hours, 30 minutes. So, my work day is basically 10 hours, 30 minutes...divide by pay...$9.02 per hour.

I had to decide, and you should consider any project similarly, is my time worth it? Based on work hours, commute time, commute costs, aggravation of lengthy commute the pay worth it?

I think it is important to develop a personal "minimum wage" that is acceptable, and add in commute time to work hours - and then see how much you are making per hour.

Is the experience going to be that good? Is the long commute making you lose other opportunities for work and friendships?

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I DO love the coffee!

Having spent the previous five years living in the Pacific Northwest, I grew to enjoy the drive-thru coffee shops. Like mushrooms after the rain! Tiny drive-thru coffee stands are every block or half block where I lived.

Brewed Awakening, Cool Beans, Java Joe's, etcetra, etcetra.

Japan, while more of a "tea" country, seems to be embracing the coffee-ness. Hence you can find a Starbucks or a Doutor or another Starbucks almost anywhere you go.

Now, I don't dislike Starbucks...they are like McDonald's. Does McD have the BEST cheeseburger? No. But it's okay. And regardless of country, you know what that cheeseburger will have on it / in it.

Starbucks coffee is...okay. Some of the drinks are a bit better than okay. Their coffee tastes just a shade burnt though.

Doutor, I guess the Japanese Starbucks (?), is okay too. But the coffee does not taste quite as strong as I like. Their food items are better than Starbucks though...Doutor has these cool warm pita sandwiches which are yummy!

But I really miss Bellingham-area local franchise of "Cruisin' Coffee." These drive-thru slices of heaven are open 24 hours a day - for your coffee, muffin, bagel needs! daughter loves the Cool Coffee Cream (a cold coffee, ice cream drink) and I often went for the Grande Hazelnut Capuccino. Whole milk please! Two toasted sesame bagels, one for each of us, and off we go!

ps: for those with no car, you can "walk-thru!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

BETTER Sexy Song!

For those who do not know, I think Miyavi is one of the best guitarists ever! I might even say his adorableness was one of the reasons I moved to Japan.

I was fortunate to see him perform in San Fransisco at a small venue in 2008. Great, great show!

Kabuki Boiz, Samurai Rock!

Mmmm....Sexy Song....

The Tale of the Kimochi-warui, Part III

Ah, this sordid's really more humorous when told verbally. Here, you miss the facial expressions of horror and bemusement!

Anyway, I continued this odd relationship for about 4 months. It usually went something like this:

I email him (note: sample template email - not exact wording of course!) : "Hi. How are you? How is work? Are you still working on the XYZ project? My work is bla, bla. Want to come over for dinner Friday?"

No response. Then two weeks later, he emails: "Want u. Miss u. XOXO" Then he would show up and bang on the door at some random time - might be during the day, might be at night. If it was during the day, I was at work - but I would hear about it from my daughter.

"Mommy! KM came by. He banged on the door for 10 minutes!"

If he came over at night, we would all (he, I, daughter) go for a walk around the neighborhood - off to Don Quixote, random stores, etc. At the end, he always wanted "some time alone." AND
he always, always made some request for oral sex in the darkened entry way or outside behind the mailboxes!

If he did suggest we get something to eat - when the server brought the ticket, he would pick it up - stare at it, then stare at me - then stare back at the ticket - then me. I understood he meant that I should give him some money.

If we all went out to eat, usually he would only put in about 500-600 yen. I paid the remaining. In fact, one time - he gave me 100 yen for an 1100 yen ticket. AND this is a man with a real full-time job.

Except for that one time/first time I declined this dubious honor. I would try to decline with explanations of: this isn't a good location, people could come by, my daughter is on the other side of the door, etc.

This just pissed him off! "You owe me! I bought you dinner last month! I bought your daughter a pair of boots before!"

'Tis true - he did buy her a cool pair of boots. And he was rather kind about it; he noted she looked sad and hoped she would feel happier.

It was these once/twice acts of niceness that kept me thinking that maybe he was not so creepy...maybe I was being unfair.

So I tried arranging actual "dates" with him - a movie? actual planned dinner? go dancing?
Nope. He would never respond to my invites, and never made a invitation.

He would just send short emails, and show up randomly.

I emailed him my concerns: that he never made actual plans with me, so I had no time to arrange another activity for my daughter to do while he and I went out. He would not email actual topics. No response to my questions on his work, day, mood. And never any questions as to mine.

Still no change from him. So, I started not answering the door. And I would reply to his emails with "That is sweet, but I am not the right girl for you. I think you should find another girl that suits you better."

I thought this indirect approach would work. He is Japanese after all! Masters of indirect meaning?! Reading the air and all?!

His behavior remained the same. Random knocks on the door and emails of "want u. miss u. dont u want me? XOXO"

Uh, no! No! No!

As I avoided him, he began to instant message me - "you have another boy? why u so mean to me?"

At first, I responded that it was not another guy, it was just we were unsuited for each other. We had nothing in common. He never wanted actual dates. AND he always wanted me to pay.

He replied that I was too mean to him, and he did not agree to stop seeing me.

I thought - okay, I will tell him I am seeing someone. Maybe THAT will be the kindest? quickest?

Oh my G-d! His response...."What? U cheat me? What kind of person are u? How u cheat on me when we dating?"

To tell the truth, I really had not thought there was anything serious going on - would anyone assume someone actually thinks you are boyfriend/girlfriend when he only emails every 2 weeks? And makes no plans? And is cheap to boot?

THEN, he told me that he will go...IF I have sex with him. That I owe him sex for his time - then he agrees to break up! AND I have to find him a new girl.

Bwa ha ha! I rolled on the floor with that one.

Then he called me a "puta." (Something I had found attractive in the beginning - he speaks Spanish, as do I. He likes salsa music, so do I. I foolishly thought we could go Salsa dancing...what was I thinking?!) And disconnected the IM chat.

The next morning...bang, bang, bang...on the door. He called my name. More banging. I ignored it.

Later I emailed him - "Do not contact me again or I will contact the police."

Ah, the joys of a country where people ARE afraid of the police. Or seemingly so. I have not heard from him since!