Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Starting My Workout Again

Hot Damn and Hallelujah!  It has finally cooled off enough for me to start working out again.  Today is the day. I am heading to Inokashira Kouen at 9 or 10 o'clock this evening to do an hour or hour and a half of fast walking.

The last time I lived in Tokyo, I did not have to arrange to work out but this time I am a bit closer to the station and can't depend on just my commute to keep the undergraduate diet from showing up on my butt.  Plus I need some cardio to keep my head on straight (well still slightly twisted but not actually sprained).

The undergraduate diet is exactly like the rest of living in Japan compared to living in America...some parts of it are incredibly different but a lot of it is exactly the same.

Before we delve into comparisons though we need to define the undergrad diet.  First undergrads usually have no money (I am not as desperate as most undergrads, but I am under a tighter budget this time around), which means sticking to the cheapest food you can find without actually dumpster diving (not an option here as dumpsters are fewer and much farther between, as far as I can tell).  The second point that needs to be addressed with the undergrad diet is that you have no time.  I have no time because I am a compulsive study hound, most of the people I go to school with have no time due to various drinking and video game commitments (although I have to give props for my friends who are gainfully employed and my friend Yuta who is taking 8 count them 8 classes this semester, I expect him to actually die sometime before finals.) but no matter what the reason undergrads have no time to indulge in something as frivolous as the preparation of food.  These are the two conditions that define the eating habits of the student body in their native environment.  Food for students need only have two qualities: cheap and fast ( I am not talking about a quick stir fry fast either, I am talking pouring boiling water into a styrofoam cup or grabbing something wrapped in plastic fast.)

Now we can address the differences between the student diet in the US and in Japan.  If this were a competition the first point would go to Japan for having a much healthier range of fast to grab prepared foods in convenience stores and supermarkets.  This is a result of necessity, there are about 8 million people living in Tokyo (this is a lot lower than a couple decades ago, but it is still pretty impressive) and most of them live (like me) in apartments that range from closet size studios to American one bedroom size (pretty damn big by Tokyo standards) so we have most of the population in little apartments with postage stamp size kitchens.  There are a lot of people who depend on their food mostly being cooked somewhere other than their own kitchen.  America is going to get a point for having a wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables that do not require you to take out a second mortgage to buy them.  I was going to buy four apples at the grocery store a couple of days ago and realized that they came out to about a buck fifty each (US)  I don't even really like apples...I just eat them because I should...I passed.  Japan gains a health point for the fact that beef is hugely expensive here so nobody eats it very often, but they immediately lose that point because they often like to throw a random piece of pork into things and not just in Japan but a lot of Asia, pork has to have big ribbons of fat running through it (here pork is NOT the other white meat, it is in fact a lard delivery system).  Japan also loses a health point because it is an unwritten rule here that there are very few foods that cannot be improved by putting an egg on top of them.  In Tokyo we also stand fearless in the face of mayo, margarine, pastries and cream (low fat is not a concept that gains a lot of traction here.)

Ok this post has gotten out of hand and has now been designated a two parter.  In other words to be continued...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kanji Reality Check

In my Kanji class, over the course of the semester, we have four kanji review tests.  Each of these tests makes up 10% of our overall grade. Each test covers about 60-70 kanji that we have learned recently along with a couple hundred compounds, about 10-15 radicals and some stroke order questions.  The few days before these tests are kanji hell, grinding and memorizing kanji every free second for several days.

I just got my first kanji review test of the semester back today.  I got 97% (applause, applause) and needless to say, I was feeling pretty damn good about it.

As I was on my commute home, I was checking out various signs and advertisements picking out words in kanji that I have learned over the last few years.  I start thinking about the number of kanji I know.  I can recognize and read about 300 hundred kanji, and I can consistently write about 100 of them correctly.  Impressive, right?  Only for a third grader.

I have been studying kanji for about 5 years and I can recognize about 300.  There are about 3,000 kanji in common use.  What this means is that I know about 10% of the kanji necessary to read a newspaper.  Sometimes it does not pay to have a sense of perspective.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Self Esteem Crisis and Dissapointed Bunnies

     Yesterday, I got socially dropped on my ass.  In the last twenty four hours I have experienced the urge to strangle half a dozen undergrads, I have considered that I am just pathetic and will never try to connect to anyone new again, and I have considered that the rest of the world is pathetic and I will never want to connect to anyone new again.  Luckily with time and a little perspective I have decided that I need to fucking let it go and not make any life choices based on being stood up by seven people in one day.  

     I have spent the last two weeks slowly trying to set up a get together in order to teach some people to play the card game "Killer Bunnies".  I wanted about four or five people to learn how to play and perhaps like it enough to make up a regular every other weekend sort of thing.  Being well versed in the dependability of college students, I went ahead and invited twice the number that I wanted to show up so half of them could flake and I would still have enough players to make up a good game.
     On Friday I started to worry because about eight people had confirmed that they were actually coming.  This was a problem.  I live in an apartment in Japan.  Having eight people in an apartment in Japan is about the equivalent of trying to seat fifteen people in your living room in the US.  It's not impossible but it takes careful planning and execution.  I had to speak with my neighbors about noise.  I had to arrange seating.  I had to MacGyver a table big enough for eight people to play cards on during which time I tried to remove part of my finger with a box cutter.  I also laid in a supply of snacks and ice.  So a bit of effort went into this on my part.

     Now I am prepared for many things to happen between Friday and Sunday afternoon so I made sure everyone had my cell number and instructions to call before hand if they could not make it.  Two of them contacted me the night before.  One of them had been sick most of the week and still wasn't feeling well, and the other had no money for train fare, these two are not on my kill list.  My friend Tony showed up to meet me at the set time in front of Kichijouji station he is on my "I owe you one" list.  The four who texted me late while I was waiting in the heat and humidity outside of Kichijouji station are on my "It's on its way and I swear to God you won't see it coming" list.

     For me the worst part of this is because of a quirk of my own mind.  When it comes to social situations I have really low self esteem.  I fake my way through pretty well but shit like this really digs in deep and twists the knife for me.  Right now I am in a really vulnerable position anyway.  Most of my friends have moved since I left, and all of a sudden I am in high school again looking for a table to sit at during lunch. 

     So after this debacle, will I try again?  Of course I will.  They are out there...my geek crew...my unmet friends.  They are just as afraid to put themselves out there as I am.  They just need me to find them... and I will. 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

It Lives!

I am attempting a resuscitation on this pitiful blog that I let fall into a coma about two years ago. Why, I hear you asking yourself, did I let it slip away in the first place?


That's it. My simple, straightforward and unadorned confession of weakness.

 When I write, I like to use humor, I like to feel witty and amuse people. When I am stressed out or unhappy I don't write... In fact, except for some rare exceptions, when I am depressed, I communicate as little as possible (except to my hubby...and I apologize profusely for making him listen to me... and he chastises me for apologizing... we came up with this system ourselves and we are very proud of it).

 I am about to change that.

When I am unhappy, stressed out, pissed off, scared, or even just feeling maudlin I am going to let it out here. When I am happy, excited, hyper and just jacked on life in general that's going to be here too.

 I am bipolar with a severe anxiety disorder. I have friends who are also bipolar, suffer from chronic depression, have personality disorders and some of you are pretty damn near psychotic. In all honesty, when I spend any extended amount of time talking to someone who seems entirely normal, I start to worry. How fucked up do you have to be in order to hide it that well.

 So I want all my beautifully damaged peoples to hang here with me. Be prepared for all of it, ranting, laughing, crying, raging, horrifying punctuation problems, misspellings and any random weirdness that just happens to be taking a stroll through my head. I will at least try to keep it interesting.

 Oh... also a quick note about comments. You can say any damn thing you feel like saying. If I am going to lay it all out here...I will expect no less from y'all.