August 2000

Subject: 24-7 party

Date: Friday, August 04, 2000 12:39 AM

Got off the plane last Wednesday, and the in-country JET’s were greeting us with cold beers. I kid you not. Mine’s still sitting in a bag.

Just add water to create a social life. Seems that’s all it takes. Friday night went to an all Japanese farewell party for my predecessor (he’s the guru of PA-dom!), and answered questions ad nauseam about who/what/why I am and Hawaii in general. Instant social life. Gods…Of course some people spoke English, most didn’t so the one’s who did spoke to me a lot, much to the annoyance of the guys at the table, as I think they resented the attention. One actually called me “skebi”, (JPN for Don Juan). Seeing as how that’s one of five words I know, I was able to correct him. πŸ™‚ He and I are going to get along so well, I can tell already.

After that, we went to the JET mixer, held at some all you can eat and drink place. Where I met some of the people I will interacting with over the phone for the next year or two. Some have a clue, some don’t. Being the PA is like being tainted, as the PA tends to be looked on as being different. Got a slight taste of this, but since I’m a churlish antisocial ass, it’s all good.

I’ve already decided anyone I work with (be they JET’s or JPN office people), OFF LIMITS!

Everybody drinks like a fish. I actually had half a beer at the farewell party, which surprised several people that were there. Thursday we had an office party, and I had soda to drink, which was met with surprised looks. Thus everyone on the grape vine had heard I didn’t drink. Keep them guessing, eh?

After the JET party, we all went to some sort of nameless club in the basement of some building. Some sort of house-techno-something music. Not my style. Had an (urinary) ephiany in the parking lot. One of the new girls (young one), was so bloody drunk, she pee’d in the parking lot. Just squatted down and went. Lefteris, my predecessor, was appalled. I was amused. Somehow, I don’t think that’s the way to win friends and influence the natives, but that’s just me.

Stayed at the club till almost three, drank my two glasses of OJ, and yes all you smart assed people out there, I danced.

Subject: grinning like a fool

Date: Friday, August 04, 2000 12:40 AM

Ah yes, I am sitting here, grinning like a fool. It was a successful Sunday. Let’s see, what did I do? Slept. Napped. Ate. Shopped. What else is there?

I’m in my aparto, moved in yesterday, and let me tell you, that was a pain in the ass. Five flights of stairs. Water also collects on the walkway, and the Japanese seem to avoid those sand paper like no slip strips like a plague. Carrying a refrigerator/freezer unit, boxes, and of course my heavy garment bag.

My poor garment bag. From literature prior to my departure, I knew that I was only going to have one bag to last me while in Tokyo (Sunday-Wednesday), and that my other two bags would get checked thru to Naha. Whoops. Someone, in all his packing like a fool, forgot to put any casual clothes into his garment bag. Whoops. I just recycled my aloha shirt a lot. I also accrued maybe 8kilos (17lbs) of paper work and CRAP while at training, so the stinkin’ thing weighed a ton. Or two.

But then, I get to Okinawa, and was told that the other luggage wouldn’t arrive until the end of the week. O-kay. I was damned happy to see it arrive Friday, as I was reusing a pair of boxers (backwards, inside out backwards, and inside out forwards).

My aparto is interesting. Divide a rectangle up into fourths, that’s my place. Kitchen right next to the baths, a “living-work-what evers” room, and the bed room ( I know it’s the bedroom as it has a large closet and a large storage something. Haven’t figured it out. Each room is probably 3mX3m, not huge, but not bad. I think I have a place picked out for the bike, if it ever shows up. I also have a lanai that runs the length of two rooms, and I plan on getting plastic chairs so that I can go and hang out. Of course the lanai is secured with steel bars, to prevent things from flying off in cause of a typhoon.

Typhoons bring lots of rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain. I believe that there is one in the vicinity, as it’s been, a tad bit wet. That’s not doing the storm justice. Heavy rain, thunder, lightning, the whole shebang. An d I’m out wandering out in the middle of it. Goretex jacket, surf trunks, and Teva’s. And of course the waterproof couriers bag.

I was out into the he elements wandering the Konsai Dori. I’m going to have to look that spelling up. The Konsai Dori is the Naha version of Kalakau’a Avenue. For those of you non-local types on this list, think Mill Ave in AZ. I live maybe 300 m from this street, which I’m going to say is a good thing. Oh yes, I’m living in the city. Smack dab right in the middle of it. I can walk to work in five minutes. There’s a huge electronic store not too far away (had to go there to buy an adapter/surge protector so I could recharge my computer). Kitty corner from that is a six story department store where I spent far too much time trying to find matching towels. Christ, I’ve turned into a wuss.

Subject: french bread is my friend

Date: Friday, August 04, 2000 12:40 AM

Whoops, there goes the leg, falling asleep on me again. It’s strange, not having any chairs, or any furniture save this combination table/futon warmer. Right now I’m pressed up against the wall, typing away. I guess this will help my bad posture.

This is what I’m thinking; I’m going to write a journal on my travels and travails, and then inflict it on everyone. Hell, it’s not like you guys haven’t sat thru enough of my boring assed stories up to this point (So Chris, does this story actually have a point, or not?), so why stop inflicting them on you know?

If you object, just e-mail me and I’ll remove your name from this huge list thing I’ve got going. And of course you guys will still here from me on a more individual basis. My parents don’t need to here the purient details of my hedonistic lifestyle. Okay, now that I’ve stopped laughing my ass off, on to tonight’s tale.

The cars here are cool. There are two types; there’s a white plate car, which is a normal car that you would find on any ‘merican street. I’ve seen lots of sporting looking things with racing decals, which causes me to laugh, because so far I haven’t seen any cars go faster then 40kph. Traffic here sucks.

Then the yellow plated cars. These are the little tiny cars. Tiny. I have half the urge to run at top speed then drop a shoulder into a door just to see if I can tip it over. Bet I could. Just tiny assed things. Sat in one where my knees were wedged against the dashboard. Lots of the JET’s in more rural areas own these. Just a mockery of what made America great.

The bike arrived today. So I carried it back to the kickin’ bachelor pad and put it together in the bathroom. Huge rip in the box, and the numbnut shipping company managed to loose one of my barends. No biggie, but now my bike looks all uneven. Didn’t go for a ride, as it’s still raining. I think that mystery switch on my wall started the rain on Sunday because it pretty much hasn’t let up since. Honto. (serious/truth). I’ve worn all three of my gore tex jackets. All work well, thou they tend to keep you torso dry, but the rain just beads off onto your slacks. Looks like you pee’d in your pants big time.

No one wears jackets here. Everyone uses an umbrella. I just can’t bring myself to get over the whole umbrella loathing thing that I have. My one concession to the heavy rain is to wear my hood up.

I still have no phone line. Should have been “fixed” today, but no such luck. What’s up with that? Time to sic Arakaki-Sensi on someone. Christ, paid enough to move in. In Japan one pays out the nose to rent a place. I paid three months extra, as a security deposit (nonrefundable for the most part)/”gift” for the relator/and general bend over, here it comes again. It wasn’t because I’m a foreigner, it’s just how it’s done. I don’t think I’m going to be to concerned about keeping grease off the tatami mats or cleaning too well when I leave.

Subject: More fried Octopus, please.

Date: Friday, August 04, 2000 12:41 AM

I apologize for another en masse mailing. I’ll stop, really, I promise, maybe :-).

Let’s see, since we’ve last spoken, it’s been many miles under my Teva’s. Long flight, Tokyo, BORING training, short flight, arrival in Naha (capital city of Okinawa), aparto hunting, greeting parties, and of course, work. Can’t forget that, I’ve spent more time in a tie this week then I ever thought I would be able to tolerate.

My job is huge. I’m going to be a surrogate father for approximately 70 ALT’s (English language teachers). Plus my office responsibilities. Which all seem to consist of fumbling through books written in Japanese then doing god knows what with the info. At least the two desks around me have excellent English speakers sitting there.

Haven’t quite figured out the e-mail thang. Not like I can do it at work, as my office is a desk, surrounded by other desks (look at the new gaijin (foreigner), he’s looking at some traffic camera in Honolulu). Thus I don’t know when this will get mailed, if ever. Phone lines seem to be more of an issue here.

My aparto is small. Not in the ‘hood, but it’s not a great neighborhood. But then, that could just be my Western sensibilities getting in the way. Two rooms, covered in tatami mats (padded floor), and a fairly large closet. Best part is I have a rather large lanai, covered in steel bars! Yup, looks like a prison from the outside. The steel bars are a protection device from the frequent typhoons that bash the island (speaking of which, I think we me be suffering the effects of one now).

Naha is the most psycho city I’ve ever seen. The streets are just wide enough to fit one and half cars :-). People drive like frickin’ maniacs. You guys know how I drive, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to drive here. Rode on the back of a 400cc bike yesterday, and it was like “sh*t, time to tuck the knees in, so I don’t clip the cars’ mirrors as we ride in-between them to get to the front of the line.” Had me grinning like an idiot (no comments, please) Biking is going to be a blast. Could someone send me FULL DH body armor? It’s going to be, ahem, “urban assault time”. “Gee officer, no I didn’t know I couldn’t ride down these steps. I won’t do it again, I promise.”

The weather, quite frankly, is brutal. Hotter and more humid then Honolulu. Moto (more) hot and moto humid. Two showers a day, and you still sweat as you get out of the shower. Those of you that aren’t fond of showers wouldn’t like it too much :-).

Tokyo was cool. What little I saw. The most I saw was while standing at the various urinals in the hotel. Right next to the outer most one, was a huge window that looked down on the ground, some 3500-4500 feet below. Did manage to actually get out one night (in a heavy rain, the gore tex jacket stayed nice and dry in the garment bag), and had the spiciest Thai food I’ve ever, ever had. It was good. And it was nice to get out and be tour guided around. Thanks Yumi-chan.

Running out of clothes. My two bags of casual clothes haven’t appeared yet, so all I have to wear is what I packed in my garment bag. Dummy me, I didn’t pack one single T-shirt into my garment bag. My casual clothes consist of: a pair of stinky jeans, one henley, pair surf trunks, pair of nylon shorts. Oh, and the aloha shirt I’ve already worn far too much.

Things are different here. On the flight over from Tokyo, they showed crash footage of the Concord crash. That was a riot. The two Brits sitting next to me don’t like to fly, and that didn’t help. I had to bite my tongue to refrain from adding my own, um, unique comments.

Time to shower and wear the wrinkled clothes. Hopefully, I’ll figure out a way to mail this sometime this weekend.

Hope all is well with everyone, I know some of you are off to school and your own adventures (Kammy and J, please study some int’l law, please?) and what not. So have fun, and if you are going to get into trouble, call me. I’ll help.

Chris

Subject: Hawaii women are better looking

Date: Friday, August 04, 2000 12:42 AM

Yup, I’ve decided that after being here a week. Someone told me that Okinawa women are the best looking women in the world. Since I’m here, I guess I can safely comment on this topic.

Not only that, but Hawaii women can dress themselves a whole hell of a lot better. Hawaii kids can dress themselves better. Not that I can talk, my tie was kinda iffy yesterday with my slacks. Seems to be some trend with oversize, baggy socks. I know some people that are into the baggy sock thing, so sorry to bash on a hallowed subject, but geez, pull the damned things up!

Subject: SNM is a riot!

Date: Friday, August 04, 2000 12:42 AM

Loved the printed journal of your exploits. That explained why at the airports they had y’alls pictures with the circle/slash all over the place. πŸ™‚ Thinking of doing group e-mail’s as my journal. Thoughts?

Subject: This might be it!

Date: Friday, August 04, 2000 12:45 AM

I might have a working phone line. Seems I mentioned at work today that I still didn’t have a phone, and my boss passed it on. So one of the other office workers went and got it done. He watched the work men replace the phone jack. Every one here has been so nice to me. Genuinely nice people.

I have found an area where Americans kick the bejesus out of Japanese efficiency. I spent almost an hour copying, collating, and stapling a pamphlets this evening. What a way to spend a Friday night. Anyway, you can tell no one helping has ever slaved away in front of a Xerox 1090 (or a spiral binder, or an automatic stapler, yikes, I’d better stop before I get sick to my stomach).

Well, I’m going to try and hook this up to the phone line. Let’s see if it works. Any bets?

Have a good weekend and enjoy.

Chris

Subject: where’s the ‘ key on this non-english POS?

Date: Friday, August 04, 2000 12:45 AM

The job. Worked all day Thursday and Friday. Spent time both in the office (I’m driving a desk!), and getting things set up (alien registration card, tax stuff, etc. etc.). Hella long days. What I am one of two Prefixal Advisors for the entire prefecture of Okinawa. Simple terms? I baby sit the 70 or so JET’s in Okinawa. I’m the final person that they can call if they are having problems with their schools, or landlord, or whom ever. If they need to hear an English speaking voice, they can call. It seems to be very broad, and I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do. I think I was “volunteered” for the job due to all my experience being kicked in the crotch at the park. Which doesn’t speak well for the mental and emotion states of the other JET’s. πŸ™‚

I’m also going to be teaching Eigo (English) two days a week. I think. Not sure. Would be nice, as I would be able to get out of the office and NOT WEAR A SPORT COAT AND TIE!

I think the job part of it going to be a bitch, pardon my French. My desk is covered with information in Japanese, which is pretty damned useless to me at this point, the computer is mostly in Japanese (hey Dad, you thought you had computer problems??)

I don’t know, it’s going to be dependent on how the JET’s are; the more needy they are, the most interesting they are going to make the job. So I don’t think I’m going to get a cell phone, maybe if they have to call me at the office or at my aparto, that will be enough, and they might be forced to think on their feet a little bit more. Dunno, I shall see.

Subject: techie question

Date: Saturday, August 05, 2000 12:37 AM

What the hell is a MD player? All the stereos here come with it, and I only have a vague idea what it is. Can I record onto a MD? Chris who hasn’t gotten nekkid

Subject: AOL is dumb!

Date: Saturday, August 05, 2000 12:38 AM

Sorry about sending everyone all that mail all at once. AOL sure as hell didn’t like it, and they booted me out of my account. Seems they thought I was ‘spamming’ the entire world, or something (in a way I guess I was), so bam! Had to call a # in the US, was put on hold for what seemed forever, then finally talked to someone. I was ready to get all over Mr. Steve Case and tell him he isn’t taking care of his fellow Punahou alums or something.

I went exploring on the bike today. Went out for about three hours, and it’s not like in Hawaii at all, where you can stand downtown, and look towards the mountains and see green and mountains, sometimes rain clouds and rainbows. From what I’ve seen here, it’s all city. I actually got up on top a rather large hill, and as far as I could see, it was just city. I’ve been told up north there is a lot of beauty, but it sure as heck isn’t here. All city. Did smell/see beach today. So I know where to go if I need to swim. The water smelled the same, thou it was a different shade of green.

Subject: i want a BMX bike!

Date: Sunday, August 06, 2000 10:55 PM

I have to admit, I got nekkid today. It’s just too bleeding hot to be out riding a bike with clothes on, so I rode around sans shirt today. I think that freaked the natives out, as hairy naked gaijins are wont to do.

Sure, go ahead and put them up on your web page. If you want more, let me know. I have such an active social life…

F*ck it’s hot. I’m sweating just sitting here. Supposedly going to get nailed by a typhoon at some point. But I can’t understand the weather reports so good. πŸ™‚ All the stereo systems here have MD players built in. That’s right, I’ve seen that little thing that you carry around. Cool, maybe I won’t be all worried if I buy a system and it has one. I can make Zombie mixes.

Found a bookstore today that seems to have lots of idol books. Found a MAX one, looked pretty nice on the cover (had the girls in dark leathery looking stuff). If you guys need anything, let me know.

Hey, if Fabio wants, I can send him the rants as well, but I don’t have his e-mail da kine.

Sorry, but the shoes are too much. I thought I could handle it, but nope. Too much. Just wild and crazy. Somewhat disappointed with the dearth of hootchie fashion. The women wear too many clothes.

Chris

Subject: I had a snow day!

Date: Sunday, August 06, 2000 10:55 PM

Yup, Okinawa has snow days. Well, it’s not really a snow day per-say, but more of a typhoon day. Everything has been canceled and or shut down for the impending smiting that we are about to receive. Sort of. Here it is, late afternoon, and nothing doing. We’ve gotten some wind and a little bit of rain. And that’s all. I expected to see cats and small people flying thru the air with the greatest of ease. Dunno. Maybe it’s just not going to hit us hard, and this is all we get. Which would be nice, can’t beat the three day weekends.

Of course, it would have been nicer if I didn’t have to get up and go into office, in a suit today, as we were supposed to have a rather large conference with all the new JET people. A couple of them have been stranded due to the storm (the ferries between the islands were shut down), so I’ve got an Aussie bunking with me for the week. We went grocery shopping, and he says he can cook, so he’s in charge of cooking. I have no problem putting people up that can cook. We ended up cruising the strip, as his island is very small and he hadn’t been introduced to the wonder that is Daiei, so I of course did so. Took an English girl there yesterday, and she went off about how cheap every thing is. It’s a little more upscale then the Daiei at home, plus they have “Hello Kitty” boxer shorts. Hummm, I might have to, what with the whole animal trend boxer shorts thing I’ve got going. πŸ™‚

I can hear a (very) loud speaker as I type this, probably telling us that the whole world has been swept away by the wind. I shouldn’t make fun, but…I heard serious sirens this morning, and thought that the Chinese had invaded Taiwan and were on their way up here, or that aliens had finally landed. Not being able to speak/read/understand provides for hours of cheap entertainment!

Subject: burn baby burn

Date: Wednesday, August 09, 2000 3:57 AM

I learned an excellent new word tonight. I learned “karai”, which is Japanese for “excuse me waiter, could you point in the general direction of the nearest large (key word) body of water as the food I have just consumed is eating away my throat.”

Ah yes, the wonders of Thai food. I had an “enkai” for the Language Center that I am going to be working at on Thursdays. Basically it’s an office party where people eat and drink. So we ate, and I even drank half a glass of Thai beer. I’ve found it’s easier to drink a little then try to explain that I don’t drink. Damn, chalk one up to peer pressure (and the beer isn’t that good, it’s okay, but not good).

Ah yes, the typhoon. When last we spoke, I wrote of the impending typhoon that was/wasn’t going to turn Okinawa into little chunks of rubble. It didn’t, which is a good thing. Five of us ended up sleeping over at someone’s place (not mine, as it’s too small and the BIKE STAYS INDOORS!) as the women were a little skittish about staying alone. We tromped about town, visiting everyone’s place to collect supplies. From my place I got my cash, passport, knife, Swiss army knife, powerbars, flashlight, and CD’s. Someone else had me carry the TV (this TV is actually mine, but I loaned it away to a young lass that was more in need of it then I am. So I’ve carried this damn thing far too much). That was her contribution.

Back at the “sleepover”, while watching the other TV, we saw on the military channel that the storm was expected to hit around 06:00 with winds around 142mph. Yup, that’s a three digit number folks. Wow. Wow. That’s windy. We watched “Brazil” ( I slept :-), others drank, I slept, others got pissed, I slept. Others got pissed while hanging out on the lanai, waiting for the storm. Which never came. I seem to remember hearing one of the pissed storm waiters screaming curses in an English accent at the masculinity of the storm. Okay.

Ended up having to go into work around 13:00. Lame.

Until the next installment, have fun.

Chris

Subject: In all seriousness…

Date: Friday, August 11, 2000 2:49 AM

Well. Sorry, it was a very long day, so this e-mail might be a little less coherent then others, insert smart assed joke here.

This past Thursday and Friday we had a conference for all the new ALT’s (assistant language teacher) that have come to Okinawa. Probably about 25 or so.

The conference went well, and I think I was able to show to Arakaki-Sensi that I’m not just a studly paperweight that can’t figure out the office fax machine. I did a lot of deciphering between he and the JET’s, not translating, as my Japanese is still nil plus two or three words. I also spoke a lot, and just basically acted as a liaison between everyone. No problem, had fun, and it went well. I was also able to get my loud voice across (one of the ladies made mention that she wants my loud voice) and the fact that while I’m here to help everyone, I’m not going to put up with stupid sh*t. Hey, when I’m up in front of the whole group, I’m will not tolerate giggling and passing notes (somebody has been annoying me with her lack of professional behavior all week, so I was able to be the scalpel and set it straight. Insert “Evil Chris Grin” right here). This isn’t grade school, boys and girls.

Then again, maybe it is. As seems to be the case, when you get several JET’s together, the alcohol flows too easily. I tagged along with a group of maybe 10-15 JET’s last night. Damn. At one point, we had literally taken over the back of this bar/restaurant, and some in the group were loud. So loud everyone one around us left. Great. One of the girls was shouting, “yes we are loud gaijins! YES! WE! ARE! LOUD! GAIJINS! She wasn’t sitting near me, so I couldn’t smack her, and stinkeye was not effective, as she was drunk. She was fulfilling the haole stereotype, and she wasn’t even haole. But then, she’s from Jersey, so…Then, I noticed that the whole restaurant was empty, so I went up to one of the waitresses and figured that they closed in ten minutes. One of the other guys wasn’t drinking, and it took us 15 minutes to get everyone up and outside. Okinawa is very permissive with their liquor laws, so several of the crew was milling around out side, drinking beer. Some had beers in both hands.

At this point I’m simply baby-sitting, and it’s past midnight. Everyone wants to karaoke, and since it’s my town/city, I attempted to show them where the local karaoke place was. Sadly, the bad behavior continued outside of the bar; at one point I saw one of the girls being hoisted by her ankles and shaken till her Yen all fell out. The hoister also was flicking off the motorcycles that were cruising the strip, gassing their throttle in a strange rhythm. What else? It was just a mob scene, I was walking way in the back, trying to pretend I wasn’t associated. Had some of the more sober ones in the back, just agog at the behavior.

One of the more drunk ones actually found a karaoke bar before I did. He was going up to people on the street and shouting “karaoke” at every one. People simply pointed.

Well, I might have to think about the whole stupid Marine stereotype. The military guys I’ve seen so far are far better representatives then the JET’s.

Another typhoon is approaching, should be fun.

The last of my house guests leave tomorrow. One left today, and he can back me up the Aussie I’ve had here all week kicks in his sleep. Two nights he’s nailed me, and I’d wake up, grab his leg, and throw it, non-to gentle, back to his side of the floor.

Monday is a holiday (o-bon), and I don’t plan on doing too much this weekend. Maybe a haircut, and maybe going to the electronic store and drooling over the stereos. More riding.

Good night.

Chris

Subject: shopping fool I be

Date: Monday, August 14, 2000 2:42 AM

My apartment came unfurnished. The guy who I replaced gave me a rice cooker, some cutlery, misc. dishes, and a pot. And a phone, and a TV/VCR thing.

Other then that, it’s nude. So now that payday is almost here, I am trying to figure out what to decorate it with. So that’s what I did the weekend; I went shopping. Oh boy, look out Naha!

Japan has these Y 100 shops, where everything in them is Y 100. Very cool. Of course there’s a lot of junk, but there is also some really cool stuff. I spent quite a bit of time and Y in them this weekend. Let’s see, I bought a couple of kitchen knives (not surprisingly, they cut like a Y 100 knife), dishes, utensils, plastic containers, little hooks to hang things, clothes hangers, and the best thing? Six plastic tiles that interlock to form a floor. Got them interlocked and in front of my sink. Might have to go back and buy a bunch for my deck. That way I can run around barefooted out there and not track in dirt. I still need chairs. And a table. I think the lanai is going to be THE PLACE. Really cool stores. Stationary, plastic flowers and baskets (thanks but no), tools! I found tools! Chris, the tool slut, found tools. A hammer for Y 100. Of course it will probably perform like a Y 100 hammer, but who cares? Buy another one! (The “I’m easily amused” thing is coming in very handy, helps prevent homesickness) Screw drivers, tape measures (yes Jason, I bought one), and those mesh bags to wash clothes in.

Still, that doesn’t tell me how I should decorate my place. If I wanted to, I could so do the pastel color plastic thing, but I don’t think so. Would clash with my kilt and my boxers. Right now, I have my rather large kinetic sculpture that I have to figure out how to mount on the wall to get it out of the way. I figure a stereo at some point, but other then that…It’s a virgin room. Found a “counterculture” store that sold rock posters, and I’ll go around someday and buy a Beastie Boys poster, but I want to avoid the “dorm room” style of decorating. So no half nekkid women, unless it’s tastefully done.

I don’t think I’m going to be buying many clothes here. Big bucks. I found a Quiksilver store, and the boardshorts where Y 9800 (about $95). Various American label t-shirts were Y 3000 – Y 5000. Nope. Skateboard sneakers are pushing Y 15000 plus, so I’ve figured that anything trendy (American), or pseudo trendy (American knock off), is going to cost bucks. Seems to be a lot of knock of stuff, or at least what I think is knock off. Versaci warm up nylon pants for Y 2000? Don’t think so. Lot’s of it. Not in the major stores, but all in the smaller, sidewalk places.

I found the trendy building. I know it’s trendy because there’s a Tower Records in it, that’s the only reason. There’s a store in there that sells the “f-u-c-k” brand of clothing, thou they invert the “u”. Really strange. One of the shirts has this woman’s body, with a small piece of rubber covering her breasts, yet she has the head of a horse. Okay. I’ll just chalk that one up to the Japanese sense of….something.

Then there’s a Hawaiian store, called “Hi Kama’aina”. And always up for good laugh, I went in. Keep in mind I’m wearing a “da kine” shirt with the Hawaiian flag on the front. Well, you don’t have to keep it in mind, as it actually has nothing to do with anything, just had to throw that in.

Didn’t expect to see Hawaiian CD’s for Y 3500. Pretty good selection, even had some of what’s his names band, you know, he was dating Stacey the queen of pinching, from McBike. Them… Plus several IZ, but Y 3500?? T&C stickers for big bucks.

Anything American seems to be the ticket, and be big bucks. Wonder what I can sell?

But anyway, please help me think of some clever and representative (of me) ways to decorate mi casa. Seeing as some of you will visit, bear that in mind. Ouch, that’s leaving me open for lots of abuse. Oh well, I’m getting bored here. No one picks on me. Or maybe they do and I just don’t understand. πŸ™‚

The shower beckons. I bought little non-slip penguin things for the floor. That’s the rest of my Monday night.

Chris

Subject: laundry, gas, and other noisy things…

Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 3:15 AM

Dinner tonight was breakfast, as lunch was actually lunch, and breakfast was a large glass of water. The stomach has been a little testy these past couple of days, I think the lack of Mexican food is causing a little rumbling in the jungle. Haven’t even eaten eggplant. Plus I have also discovered a shocking byproduct of wearing a tie, you CANNOT FART INDISCRIMINATELY. Something about the maturity level increases when you wear a tie. You sit there at your desk, and you just can’t…It’s not like the good old days at McBike, where the bike mechanics (who will remain nameless, thank you very much), would simply let them rip, then have long and quasi-intelligent discussions about gastrointestinal matters. Those pesky bike mechanics, crazies, all of them.

Anyway, it’s all good, as my bathroom is the coolest place in the apartment. It’s wall to wall tile, and there is a drain in the middle. The drain is very, very important, and there is no shower curtain, nor could you put one, if you wanted to. My shower only comes up to slightly above my knees. So when I bend over (actually, I prop legs on the side), my torso doesn’t block the shower, and thus water everywhere. Hence the tile and drain. There’s a metal cover that (supposedly) keeps the TP dry, but it don’t work.

Next to the shower is the washing machine. I guess when (time to change to CD, be right back, any requests?) you think about it, it make sense to have to washing machine in the bathroom. Well, not really, but who am I to argue with tradition?

My washing machine is smarter then I am, as it says on the front “fuzzy logic brain”. Of course, that’s the only thing written in English on the whole machine, so I haven’t figured out what the buttons do. Everything is getting washed in cold water. No biggie. You can actually leave the lid open and watch it. Which I’ve actually done, standing around, with a big glass of water, watching the clothes get all tangled up. That’s some cheap excitement.

When it’s pau, I simply reach in and pull something out. Everything comes out at the same time, and I have to spend some time untangling stuff. When you have shorts and what not with Velcro, gets a little bit sticky. I’ve since bought washing bags, so that my shirts don’t get all beat to hell. The washing machine then drains into the floor.

I momentarily lost my senses yesterday and bought a stereo. I think lugging it up five flights of stairs caused me to question my judgment. I actually like it. A lot. It was worth it. I can hear things I’ve never heard before (no, no little voices telling me to get up and KILL!), even thou I’ve listened to some of these CD’s a lot.

Came with a MD player. I actually had to check with my tech friend (Go Taro!), and ask what the heck a MD is. Seems it a different way to store and play music, on something like a small floppy disc. Of course, it hasn’t caught on in the US, but as I’m going to be here for a while, I need to listen to my CD’s. In a rare bit of candor and honesty, the quiet of the place was getting to me.

Well, so ends this tale. I’d like to thank the sponsors of this show, the letter “a” and my favorite vitamin, “F”.

Chris

Subject: it’s all about the underwear

Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 3:16 AM

Got some good ideas on how to decorate the place. Perhaps the best (so far), is to hang my boxer shorts on the wall, sort of a wearable art thing. For those of you that don’t know, I sort of, um, have the reputation at the bike store of running around and showing my enormous collection of boxer shorts to anyone. The females were amused (right ladies?), and the guys simply cringed and looked away. So this reputation has followed me across many miles to Okinawa. Hence “nekkid bike mechanic” and other nicknames.

Speaking of naked, people don’t take their clothes off. I haven’t seen a single person without a shirt on. Of course, I don’t expect the women to take their tops off, but I haven’t seen any guys running around shirtless. Even the sunburned tourists. Not many tank tops either.

So I haven’t taken my shirt off. A couple of times while riding bike, but not running errands or even walking up the five flights of stairs. Now that I think about it, there is an Asian thing about that…I think. Maybe it’s just me. As soon as I’m in the door, off comes the shirt. It’s too hot to wear one. Think I freaked out the house guests, thou the Aussie was doing it to by time he left.

Tomorrow is Thursday, and that means I get to go and hide at the Language Center. At some point, in the near future, I’m going to be “teaching” an afternoon English conversation class to post-highschool women. If that doesn’t sound like a recipe for disaster, dunno what is. I get the “wink-wink, nod-nod” impression it is more of a day off then an actual day at work. Sort of a secret between the Language Center and myself. I plan on wearing an aloha shirt, no tie, khakis, and maybe even sneakers (and boxer shorts, maybe the glow in the dark ones).

Sorry, back to the decoration suggestions. Keep’em coming.

I guess I should study Japanese. But it’s so nice to be typing on an English computer keyboard, everything is where it’s supposed to be. So, keep the roar down to a growl, and what not.

Chris

Subject: I AM CHURL!!!!

Date: Saturday, August 19, 2000 12:36 AM

There I was, walking thru the Heiwadori, which is this large, semi-indoor shopping arcade, roughly the size of Ala Moana, when this women comes up and starts talking to me. Yee-haw! I think, then I listen to what she’s saying, and she wants to know if I want to come to her Christian Church to be baptized. Shit. I smile, say “no”, and walk off (quickly), she doesn’t follow me, but rather goes into a shoe store. Thank god for shoes.

I’m going back to walking around with my normal, pissed off expression on my face. I’ve been trying to have a more benign look, so that I don’t look so angry. I’ve been told that I always look so pissed off, even when I’m not. Ya know, come to think of it, I got this a lot at the bike shop. “Chris, you can only frown when you are on the brown tiles. Gotta smile on the white ones”. So screw the idiotic expression I’ve been wearing, it’s back to the churlish one. Long live the churl! Hehehe.

Sorry married one, that advice I’m going to ignore. πŸ™‚

Chris

Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 4:19 AM

Subject: shoeless chris

Can I find shoes that fit? Can I find shoes that fit and don’t cost an arm and a leg? Hell no. Checking the Internet….

Subject: I am Natto Man!

Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 4:21 AM

It’s really hard to type while sweating all over the keyboard.

This past Monday was payday. I didn’t get a pay check mind you, rather I received an envelope full of cash (am I still working at McBike?). Cha-Ching! Seems that’s the normal method of operation here in Japan. More money in my hands then I’ve had in some time. Some time indeed.

Of course I did the fiscally responsible thing and deposited it in the bank soon after. Now, could I see a show of hands who out there in the reading audience actually believes that? Let’s see, what is there in Naha for Chris to spend his cash on? No bookstores (well, none that sell any English books), music stores (Chris already has a lot of music), clothes (way too expensive!), stereo (took care of that already), furniture (seeing as how Chris has none, this is the safe bet), and bike stores…..Ah yes, bike stores. There goes all the safe bets right out of the window. Yup, I purchased a bike. Something a little better suited to urban riding (I will spare all the non-bikers on this list the technical details). I’m happy. It’s going to solve ALL my problems and make more attractive to women and help get that chiseled, rippling washboard set of abs I’ve been striving for my whole life.

I stuck the rest of the paycheck in the bank. I have a little common sense.

So it’s Wednesday, or Sui-yobi in Japanese. I’m just getting so fluent (not!). Had a dinner party this evening with the two other Gaijins in the Kencho building. One’s an Aussie, the other is a Brit. Both female, both nice. The British girl, Sadie, is actually my female counterpart. She’s the one that I loaned the TV to. Anyway, had dinner. Jennifer’s Japanese boyfriend cooked, well, he didn’t cook, as it was make your own sashimi style. Yup, ate raw fish. Still not dead. Kinda hot and sweaty, but that’s from getting lost on the walk back. Grrr. Also ate the dreaded natto. Now Vince, I know that you, Mr. “I eat anything”, warned me long and often about this dreaded, fermented soy bean. And who am I to ignore your brotherly advice, told me to from all the love that is in your heart? So I ate some. Not a lot, mind you. But enough to get the general gist of the whole thing. Umm, it was better then the green tea flavored tea cracker (senbei) that I had yesterday. And again, still not dead. Oh wait, my head just fell off….

Subject: vague duties

Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 11:46 PM

So as part of my vague job, I have decided that I am going to be a fountain of knowledge and that is going to require a lot of work, which is why I’m emailing everyone, asking for their kokua.

I’d like to have a data base of web sites that I can call on. Web sites that might prove interesting to teachers to show their students, web sites that might show new things, funny web sites, etc. So, please let me have some addresses. Some of the things I’ve found include an online pregnancy test (works for guys as well), satellite pictures of the earth, information about buying foreign goods here in Japan, j pop web sites, gov’t sites about the military on Okinawa, loony web sites on the military on Okinawa, that kind of stuff. I’m writing a “mixed plate” column for the monthly newsletter, and I’m going to include some sites of interest. Plus if anyone is looking for info, I may be able to help.

Please don’t send me any porn or anything that is in bad taste. I have no urge to get chewed out for disseminating morally corrupting stuff.

Send them to me.

Chris

Subject: wall 1, chris 0

Date: Friday, August 25, 2000 4:20 AM

Smack! Chain ring into the wall. Smack! Oh well, not like I use the big chain ring anyway…

I have to admit, it’s been years since I’ve just played around on a bike. I can’t back tire hop to save my life, my balance skills suck, and I’m having fun. Trying to relearn all those forgotten/never learned skills. Plus the whole platform pedal thing is kind odd. They leave nice marks in the back of calfs.

I found two pairs of shoes on the Internet, a pair of DC’s, and a pair of Northwave BMX. Cheap. $80 for both pairs, but they don’t ship to Okinawa, so Mom is going to forward them to me.

Gotta love Moms.

Good luck with the filming of the movie. That’s so cool. Especially since you can see the scar in the back of your head.

Good night.

Chris

Subject: Stinky fishing village (long one)

Date: Wednesday, August 30, 2000 4:04 AM

The Canadian looked stunned; his eyes were toying with turning all white as he clasped his hands to his forehead and started making odd noises. The Australian was beaming her big cheery smile, and the Hawaiian laughed as he drank his Pokari Sweat.

The clasped hands were removed from the forehead and the two bystanders could see the damage inflicted by the Australians forehead. Yup, the 5’5″, 130lbs Canadian male had just be officially baptized, Aussie style, by the 5’10”, 145lbs Aussie female. Conk!

The three were laughing, thou to varying degrees. Evidently the Canadian was in a little bit of pain, which the Aussie found strange. The Hawaiian still laughed. No attempt was made to induct the Hawaiian in the Aussie brotherhood (sisterhood). Perhaps when the two had “talked story with their hands” earlier, trust was created.

Ah yes, the final night of a three day, two night conference was being whiled away with lots of cold booze and stupidity. Since everyone had been drinking rather heavily for almost six hours, the night was getting interesting, and oh yes, it got even more entertaining. Earlier, an amorous couple was corrected on the proper use of the stairwell.

Three days and two nights in a remote (where’s the logic in that?) fishing village that didn’t have closed sanitation. What with all the rain and wind that had been flying about, due to typhoon #12, it simply stank.

As far as the Hawaiian was concerned, the smell was offset by the cane fields and greenery about. Living in the city was nice, but seeing greenery was also nice.

The group was made up of roughly 30 Assistant Language Teachers (like the Hawaiian) and 8 JTE’s (Japanese Teachers of English). All were undergoing training to work together more effectively and start weaving the initial threads of friendship. The charming Hawaiian had already fallen in love/lust (for the eighth time this week), but alas.

Despite being a cynical so and so, our well dressed protagonist enjoyed the three days. He found easy camaraderie, learned several new things, and was able to engage in some of his favorite activities; the wearing of boxer shorts in public, being charming, and climbing things to retrieve volleyballs. “How many English teachers does it take to get a stuck volleyball down? Four, three to try to work together, then Chris to take charge and climb the wall to the back board and do his monkey impression.” Perhaps a little of his stodgy, non-drinking persona was dispelled by the red “girls love dirt socks” and the black rubber slippers.

The witching hour and the early morning hours of silence (ha!) found the Hawaiian holding semi-cold sodas to the chin and cheek of one the English girls. The sea of beer and awamori (Okinawa Sake) and the previous nights’ martial arts demonstrations had turned everyone into masters, thus the bodys were flying and the brains were shut off.

The English girl chased Jesus out of the TV room; Jesus’ scraggly beard and wild unkempt hair were flapping the minimal A/C. Who was on top was lost in the jarring impact as the two “warriors” crashed to the ground, with the English taking it on the chin from the Americans. God bless America.

No blood, just tears of anger, pain, and revenge. Tylenol was to be found (someone packed his first aid kit), and the young lass was comforted on the floor by the Hawaiian, one of the second year teachers, and the other English lass. For a while, it was unclear what was going to win, the evil concoction of booze in her stomach, the pain in her face, or the urge to KILL! The Hawaiian realized that she would make a full recovery, as she was attempt to smack the crouched Hawaiians; nuts. God bless sobriety and muscular thighs.

Wednesday came and went, the 06:30 call to arise and exercise was replaced by the 06:30 call that announced that exercise was canceled. When the English lass awoke, she sported a huge bruise on her chin. The Hawaiian spread some of da aloha spirit around, and all was “daijobo”, which is THE word that I’ve learned so far this week. I’m very slow.

Chris

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