November 22 2000

Date: Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Subject: Part I of ???

First of all, Happy eat till you get sick day. We have that here, an actual holiday. Thou it’s called “respect flightless fowl day” or something. It’s a day off from work. So, that means I’m going in at 0930 and I wear casual clothes. NO TIE!

Please eat some Turkey for me. And some potatoes, and some Tacos and hamburgers. Avoid melting chocolate covered mac nuts onto pancakes. Yuck.

My life has consisted of work these past two or three weeks. Tuesday was a fourteen hour day. I think, dunno, it was just a long blur. Next week, for three days, there’s a conference of 69 English teachers and their Japanese counterparts. And the organization of said conference is all mine. From bike mechanic to conference organizer. Holy crap. So lots of hours and serious patience. You all know I’m patient. Well, I’ve gotten even more so. I’ve had to beg, bribe, blackmail, ask, cajole, convince, threaten and compromise to get this off the ground. I need speakers for approximately 15 or so seminars over the three days. Plus entertainment for the reception. I think it’s going to work. I can see the end. Almost there. The lack of Japanese has been, in all honesty, a bitch. My boss has been extremely busy with budgetary things, so that means it’s going to be mine (for good or bad). To his credit, he’s been extremely flexible. I owe him for that. He’s letting some wet behind the (hairy) ear biker run this. One of the problems has been that I’ve gotten “help” from other departments. The soup has been damned close to being ruined several times. Had a twenty minute discussion with several other cooks last night, trying to convince them that it was my kitchen, get the hell out, and let me add the ingredients. Think it worked. I didn’t get any panicked calls from any JETs today, saying that they were “volunteered” to do the oh so popular “team teaching with the text book”. Probably going to be the most unconventional Mid Year Conference in Okinawa JET history. Even more so when I have my fellow Hawaiians present the speakers with paper leis. Hehehe. I’m throwing a big does of Hawaiian into the bento.

My boss told me to leave work tonight at 19:30 tonight, and I was amazed. I spent the night wandering around, eating at Mos Burger and thinking if I wanted to go ride bike (nope).

So my writing is going to be my exercise tonight. Sit back and enjoy. As always, amusing comments and responses are welcome.

Chris

Subject: Part II of ???

My snapping point was insight one night last week. Came home from work, about 21:00 or so. Walked into my apartment, turned the light switch, click. Nothing. Tried the other two on the wall, nothing. Opened the fuse box, flicked all the circuit breakers, then tried all the switches, again, nothing.

Haven’t even taken my shoes off nor dumped my heavy couriers bag.

Thought….

The bill is paid, as it’s taken out of my account every month. There’s Yen in the account, so that’s all good….

Went next door, tried everything, again. Nothing.

Oh yeah, it’s raining.

So I come back in to my place. Change clothes, AND START SWEARING MY FOOL HEAD OFF! I was actually using body parts, and I almost never use body parts (well, the really nasty ones). A good swear helps. Really. I gradually saw my snapping point recede into the distance. But I was close to really going off a la Barbara Mooney style (I cannot believe I’m mentioning her in an e-mail. Crazy old lady).

So I get my shower stuff, then walk down the three flights of stairs, knock on the door, and smile.

I then go into my routine. I know the word for electricity. It’s “denki”. I only know this as the local electronic store is called “Best Denki”. I also know “no”. Thus, I put them together and tell the landlords what’s going on. “No” is also expressed as a gesture, you make an “x” with your pointer fingers, and say (I think) “daame” or “iie”. Iie is “no”, and “daame” is bad or no or serious evil is afoot. I forget. Anyway, I didn’t use my fingers, rather I wound up my arms from behind my head brought my wrists crashing into each other with tremendous force, my fingers and hand rigid extensions of my wrists in the form of an “X”.

“DAAME DENKI!” I used my scary deep bike mechanic voice and chanted it. Over and over.

I then followed Oji San upstairs, where I watched him flick all the switches. Again. Which I had just done. I wondered if I should get a cup of water and throw it into the fuse box, but quickly quashed that plan, as I had no running water.

Once he figured out that I indeed, had no electricity, I left him flicking switches and went back down to shower.

In a very anti climatic ending, the denki people came and fixed it. That’s all.

But now, I have water. Running water. It’s hot, and it stays hot. There’s enough pressure to run the washing machine. My toilet flushes. I have no bathtub, but who cares? I really wanted to stay home today and call in sick, and just hang out in my bathroom. “Flush the toilet, use the sink, watch the washing machine, shower, repeat.” However, no such ruck.

Anyway, had a “meeting” with the landlords last night when I got home at 22:30 (I was told to stop by when I got home after work, so I did. Hey, wake my ass up 0400, I’ll wake your asses up at 22:30), regarding the fact that the plumbing had just been fixed. They apologized and gave me money. Wow. Cool. I was going to ask for a discount on Novembers rent, but now I won’t.

I know what I’m happy for this Thanksgiving.

Chris

Subject: Part III of ???

The women walked away from me, laughing as she went. I knew what smile she had on her face.

I was in a toy store. Actually a “Toys R Us”. Probably my first taste of America since July. Huge store. Didn’t buy anything, thou I thought about buying “Rob Zombie” (again).

She was smiling and laughing because she knew me all too well; that Chris was in a toy store and would be very happy and probably buy something stupid and he would act like the man-child he is.

She didn’t wander too far; as I think I had the rental car key in my pocket (and her camera in another pocket, and her cell phone in the last pocket). I bumped into her in the ball aisle, where I liberated a rubber ball from its rope cage and proceeded to throw it at her. Again, she laughed, then batted it back at me. An impromptu game of volley ball broke out in aisle 7. I must say, I had to chase after her volleys a lot more then she did mine (and I didn’t even play high school volleyball, ehh??? :-).

I had no fear of being recognized, as I have a short hair cut and was wearing OD shorts and a skate shirt, so I looked very much like a military guy. Didn’t hurt that we were next to Kadena, the largest Air Force base in Japan.

Anyway, I had company in town for four or five days last week/weekend. Absolute blast! More fun then I’ve had since I’ve been here. With the rental car, we drove literally all over the island. There is some really pretty things here. Once you get out of the city, some fantastic views and abandoned beaches with spectacular eroded coast lines. Drove to some islands that are connected to my island by bridges.

What else?

Ate a lot of ice cream. Need to go and work out to make up for all the ice cream. Missed Bubbies thou…

Visited the Okinawa versions of Polynesian Cultural Center. Saw “authentic” Okinawa style villages and sugar mills and crafts. Also saw Mongoose and Snake (Habu) shows. Seems that they used to actually put them together and let them beef it out, but it was stopped. Good, don’t think I would have enjoyed that. Also had a pinch of dried Habu, which is supposed to cure all that ails you, tasted like dirt, only drier. Yuck. They were also selling Habu penises for Y 1000 per one, as a curative for “male” issues. Some of you McBike people will forward this to Harris, right? 🙂

It was genuinely nice to hang out with someone that actually knows me. Not someone who is my friend because I work with them or they want to practice their English or what nor.

Anyway, amidst the barren fourteen hour days, an oasis of fun. I know where all the cool spots are. Sorta. Know what? This island is full of Japanese tourists. Go figure….Saw castle ruins, and more castle ruins, then some castle ruins.

We went to a WW II museum. W.W.II had/has a huge impact on Okinawa. Brutal fighting. I’ve done some reading and research, and it’s horrible. Mainland Japan was bombed, yes, Okinawa was destroyed. One in three Okinawans died during WW II. The War has permeated everything. My friendly neighborhood principals name translates into “fight’, his brothers are “no surrender” and “forward”. I’m serious.

The museum was to honor the high school students (female) conscripted into the nurse corps. These high school girls had horrible attrition rates. They performed absolutely repugnant medical tasks. I had to stop reading their journals as it was too sad and gruesome.

About a hundred yards from the museum building was a surplus store, selling all sorts of military paraphernalia. Extremely poor taste. I was saddened by the lack of respect shown the dead.

That’s that. More when it happens.

Chris

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