October 23 2000

Date: Monday, October 23, 2000

Subject: enjoy the silence?

I bought stamps yesterday, and the lady gave me a bag of potatoes. Not too sure why, but I never look a gift potato in the mouth.

Sorry for being an e-mail ghost the past two weeks. My modem decided to stop working. I’ve since found that you just don’t walk into the computer store and buy a replacement. Nope. Seems the whole “English” operating system thing is different from the “Japanese” OS. Big fun getting a new one. Nothing is easy here. Wait, I take that back, it’s easy to get potatoes. NOTHING, and I mean, nothing, will ever be difficult again. Except women, always difficult and confusing (okay, now that I’ve annoyed half of my reading public), I’m not serious (much :-).

Don’t have any cool adventures to report on. I missed the 250,000 people that congregated in my city for the worlds largest tug of war. I had played football/soccer the day before with a bunch of nutter English guys, and we played a high school team. Two hours of running around, in the hot sun, wearing BMX sneakers. Brutal. I couldn’t walk at a normal pace for five days. Really. I figured that some old granny would beat me senseless, and I wouldn’t be above to move at all, I literally hobbled around for the first three days. I still have blood blisters on both my feet. The game was rough. I had a sore knee (compliments of a foot), sore hamstring (compliments of the rock hard ground), bruised thigh (compliments of a knee), and a black and blue hip bone (compliments of an elbow). After that, the gloves came off. The damned kids found out that my abused and dented shins feel no pain. Thou I did feel bad about smacking the boy in his boys with my knee, but enough was enough. After the game, I went home, threw up, then slept for 13 hours. Going to do it again this Saturday. Can’t wait.

Work is getting more entertaining, also more stressful. Not a trade off I like, but still, just have to bear with it three days a week.

I judged the all Okinawa Speech Competition last week, and that was amusing. Several of the kids spoke English more coherently then I do (I would guess compliments of American fathers). Actually seems to be a common problem with us English teachers. Only with other English teachers can we speak normally, with proper intonation and speed.

One of the girls did a speech on how Japan was too sexualized and thus was responsible for a lot of the current problems (had some problems with kids going psycho with kitchen knives), and that lots of Japanese men were dirty old perverts and should stop their behavior. I really liked it, simply because it took lots of balls for her to get up and say this in front of her peers and the Japanese audience. She won. Couldn’t believe it. Beat out 23 other contestants and won the free trip to Hawaii. She’s also from this tiny island, that has maybe 40 kids in the whole school.

This week, I was on a panel to interview perspective exchange students to Hawaii. That was amusing. Especially when one of the young girl turned to my non-English speaking counterpart and asked him to translate what I had asked her. Not good girl. Lot of them mentioned an urge to try Hawaiian food. I can see their faces when someone gives them some poi to eat. Hahaha. Funny thing was, I read the itinerary from this past trip, and a Ms. Jandi Quintoriano from Kalani HS hosted one of the kids. Stinking small world (she was one of my summer fun kids a while ago).

Sorry ’bout the dead modem thing. I have lots of mail to catch up on, and will do so in the next couple of days.

Tomorrow is payday, and the next adventure is finding cleats (football boots) that fit my feet. That’ll be an amusing waste of an afternoon. I’ve already looked at the newly opened “Sports Depot” monster store, and nothing. Thou they sell bike tools! I’m embarrassed to admit that I spent probably 15 minutes fondling bike tools and drooling. Of course, the USA tools are a bit pricey, but the made in Japan stuff is cheap(er). Can’t save all my paycheck. Oh, I also have a way cool surplus sleeping bag and it doesn’t smell. So, apato de Chris is open for company. Y’all come out and visit. Kickin stereo and sleeping bag. What else do you need?


Subject: this is long (and boring) and talks about Japanese fashion

It’s a good Saturday night. Know why? Because I can move my legs, that’s why. Because I’m not passed on out on my futon, slipping in and out of an exercise induced coma. Maitais (my thighs) are sore, but at least I can move. I just wished they hadn’t gotten sore five minutes into the game. Dunno, as long as I could move at a slow pace, all good. But, if I was required to boot the ball or move at a fast clip, problems. Left forward, hum, not required to move fast or boot the ball into the middle of the field. Not at all. I need to start going to the gym (I’m serious). Besides, even with my ego, I don’t know if I can handle kids half my age just dribbling around me, while I jog after them. Once they figured out that I wasn’t moving well and that I couldn’t put any power into the ball, they stopped trying to fake me out and simply went around me. Getting burned is bad enough, I can respect that. Having kids dribble (at a walking pace, mind you), past your weak ass, that’s another story altogether.

I’m tired of talking about me. I just rant and rant and rant. So I’m going to play tour guide tonight, into the world of high fashion. Well, seen through my eyes of course. If anyone has any suggestions as to what I can write about, be it the cars, stores, what not, please let me know. I’ll train my keen eye and whip smart brain upon new subjects.

Welcome to the catwalk, your host this evening will be Ku-ri-su, infamous Eigo no Sensei from Naha. If you aren’t at all interested in what the population of Naha is wearing, skip it. There are a few good taps of the keyboard, but a lot of dreck. It’s a Saturday night, what do you expect? Let’s start with the military guys, they are easy, and it will get me warmed up. All the military guys I see in my neck of the woods look like military guys trying to not look like military guys. That means hats and visors. Often times worn at jaunty angles. Personally, I think that they can’t dress themselves. Someone once told me that he would be lost if he had to figure out what he had to wear everyday, so he was glad for the uniform. It shows. Their clothing looks like anything you could buy off the shelf at any “trendy” store in the US of A. The black guys, being black guys, always look well dressed. Don’t know why. The older guys dress better. Less of the “I’m a punk kid in a foreign land”. Always in groups of two or more, never alone.

The Japanese. Well, they dress like the Japanese we see in Hawaii. Okinawans are very conservative, both in actions and appearance, that you can tell where someone is from by looking at what they are wearing. The guy with the undershirt on under his t-shirt? Good bet he’s from a small island. The girl with the really wide belt and FM shoes? Probably from the mainland.

Casual clothes for guys tend to be jeans or slacks and t-shirts and dress shirts. The t-shirts are usually some sort of American brand or something in (poor) English. There are a lot of jeans, some made by a “famous” American jean company I’ve never heard of, Edwin? And shoes. Most of the time guys wear shoes. Thou one night there was this drunk guy (in Okinawa? Naa, never happen) wandering the streets, in bare feet, and a very dirty dress shirt and nice slacks. He was hitting on the two women in our group, and I was getting ready my “Pocket Vince” to throw at him. He ran off about the time I was stretching the arm muscles out.

Sorry, that’s it for the guys. I really don’t look at what the guys wear. The boys tend to wear a lot of skate boarding stuff, occasionally surf clothes, and there’s some sort of flannel shirt with black felt hat movement. Also the terry cloth towel tied around your head. Guys walk around, wearing towels on their heads. I’ve seen the ugliest Aloha shirts here, no joke. Seems there’s some sort of indigenous version, and they are all ugly. Everybody likes mine a lot better.

Women. Not that I look, (HA!), but this season, faux leather is in. Be it tight skirts or calf high boots, it’s all over the place. Not that I mind….

Oh, I forgot, it’s winter. Yup, winter officially started last Sunday, so the women are tending to wear heavier clothes. Sweater thingies, neck wraps, jackets. {Now before everyone asks me how cold it is here, I’m sitting here, typing this next to my large open window, wearing boxer shorts and a grin, wishing I had a table outside so I could type. And it’s 10:30 at night. I’m not sweating, but I’m not cool}. But summer is over. Must be, because they turned off the A/C in my fourteen story office building. Not fun.

Subject: fashion rants, part two

Not a lot of “hootchie clothes”. Must say, I’m a little bummed. The trashy clothes are few and far between and it looks bad. Oh yes, there is good trash (as my male reading public nods their head in agreement). Again, it’s usually mainlanders.

Moon shoes are everywhere. They have moon sole shoes with stiletto high heel things. Saw a pair tonight. Moon shoes are those shoes with the 4, 5, and 6″ soles. I’ve seen girls turn their ankles, and they just go down like that! I’ll stand next to a girl, and she’ll come up to my chest/shoulder, then I look down at the shoes, then I laugh. Don’t have to worry about drowning with those things on. Your feet would be a-bobbing high above the waves, while your head would be fathoms lower.

I also see more blondes in five minutes on the street then at any point in my life. Both guys and girls, bleech’em! Everywhere. It’s not bad. Some go too far, less is better, in my humble opinion.

There are some tall people here. Occasionally I’ll see someone that is a lot taller then I am. Seen some tall women too. Saw the “Tall Family” in the Family Mart. The mom was the shortest one there, and she was maybe my nose height. My English mate followed them around, muttering something about “no more milk”.

My school kids have no uniforms, so they wear what every they want. Lots of baggy, hip-hop style clothes. American brands, natch. Available in certain back alleys of Naha for not a lot of Yen. Not knock off clothing thou, the Japanese frown on that. Yup, no knock off clothes, shoes, purses (humm, high school girls with Prada), and watches.

The girls tend to be all over the spectrum, some are dressing like women, others like little girls.

Other school kids wear uniforms. Think Catholic school. Pretty similar, just different colors, stripes, etc. Differences abound in shoes, hair (color and length), skirt length, and what not. The more “risky” girls wear their skirts really high up (Go back and reread “wide belt” remark) Those thick, baggy white socks are in. Scrunched down to their ankles. To me, they look like leg warmers a la “Flashdance”. Damn, I think I just dated myself.

Everybody has a cell phone. The homeless guy and I are the only ones that don’t have them. But he’s collecting change, so… I mean EVERYONE! Stinking cheap, and with some you get an Internet account with them. You see people on moving mopeds staring at these tiny little screens, then frantically pressing buttons to write messages, then frantically swerving to avoid the bus. I actually haven’t had a problem with the kids in my classes using them, but I hear it goes on all the time. First time will be the last time. I’ve always wondering if I could call the US on a Japanese cell phone…..(Hey Vince, guess where I am! In school!)

Chunky watches, lots of earrings, occasionally a facial piercing (you can buy a piercing machine for $12 at Daiei. Look what I did to my face Mom!), Lots of those big, body piercing hoops. The kind that leave monstrous holes when you take them out, neat place to stick a pencil, thou. Might have to try that in school this week. Backpacks, backpacks, and more backpacks. Again, American, and very $$$$. I’ve seen a couple of bags like mine, and I laugh. Poser. Also, large fanny packs.

No sunglasses. Sunglass stores, but no one wears shades. I’ll be out walking, lunch time, bright sun (even thou it’s winter :-), nary a pair of glasses. But then, I think I see more at night then I do during the day. Go figure. But sunglass stores…

This is huge. If you are still here at this point, sorry.


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