Sunday, November 25, 2007

A really fun weekend with Yuko.

No, those aren't scratches on my car, that's ice! It's getting friggin cold here and I heard from people at school it will get even colder! Down to -5celsius! I am really glad I have new WARM clothes now or I might have caught a bad cold by now. It's been about three years since I wore winter clothes and I kind of missed them. I like dresssing in layers although it is kind of troublesome when you want to just take them off to go to bed or something. Hopefully my running will allow me to drop a few pounds in my face so I don't look like a fat rolley-poley in my winter jackets.

Contrary to the weather being cold, my social life has been really hot! Man, this has been a good weekend. I have done something every day and managed to spend more time outside of my apartment than in! Thanks to the help of two good friends I have blown through a big wad of cash and didn't even realise it because I was having too much fun. I'm glad payday is this week or I'd be in serious trouble.

This week went by super fast because we had two holidays this week, one on Tuesday and one on Friday. Friday was the start of my very long weekend and it just kept getting better from there. Who am I kidding, this weekend isn't even over yet, it's only Sunday morning! I actually thought Friday would kind of suck because I wasn't really that interested in going to the Yamanashi Teacher's Union new teacher's festival. I agreed to go a few weeks ago when I was having dinner with Takako (one of the teachers I work with). To my surprise it really wasn't bad. In fact, the festival was very fun even though a lot of it was work like helping with traffic control/parking and singing a song in Japanese with a choir(after only one practice!). The real fun actually happened when I was alone with her in her car. We talked a lot about random things and just seemed to really connect. I think we made a real break though. I already knew she was somewhat interested in me somehow, but now it is obvious and I'm going to pursue this opportunity with all I got. Hopefully after this week is over, she'll finally have some real free time on her hands, at least she said she would. I'm hoping to spend more time together with her now that I know she wants to be with me. The best part of all of this is that she sent me a cute text mail on my phone which really dropped a big hint there is something goin' on.

Now on to my other half of Friday.  I had plans to do something with Yuko during the afternoon/evening. It seems now that I can expect to spend the whole evening with her if we end up meeting for lunch. She really likes just driving around and doing random stuff around town with me. Friday and Saturday were no different. We spent a lot of time and money driving around, sight seeing, shopping, and dining. We also went bowling and I managed to get Yuko to have a good time despite the fact that she told me she usually gets frustrated playing because she isn't good. I did a good job helping her with her technique and managed to get her interested in bowling again. I usually would be super tight and frugal with my money near the end of the month or even during any time of the month, but we have such a good time together I really don't mind or regret spending so much.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about what Yuko and I did but I will briefly list what we did so the pictures I display here make more sense. On Friday afternoon, I went to see my school's boy's soccer team play a championship soccer match. It was my first time ever watching a soccer game in person and for the most part I enjoyed it. Regrettably, my school's team lost by one point so their dreams of winning the regionals is over. After soccer we went out for dinner at a steak house and a nearby arcade for a little music game fun with Pop n' Music.

Saturday we spent ALL day together and drove all over town in my car. The biggest part of the day was going back to Shosenkyo during the afternoon to get better pictures. The night time was followed up with a little window shopping at a couple of stores and a light sushi dinner. We finished the night off with a cute movie at my apartment called Ratatouille. It was kind of nice having a REAL friend stop by my apartment for once. Hopefully this will happen more often.
I hope I can do something today (Sunday) with somebody. I am worried about asking Yuko to go out again because I don't want to wear out our relationship so quick and get tired of each other either. The nice thing about Yuko is that she ASKS ME to go out. So maybe she is OK with spending lots of time with me. Anyway, things are going along just fine in my little town and I am glad I will have good friends over winter break. I can't wait for Christmas! It's only a few more weeks away!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Post too awesome to title gets no title.

It's been a rough couple of months starting my life off here in Minami-alps. It's not that the actual city is bad or the people are horrible, it is that there isn't really any nightlife to speak of and it lacks the population of twenty-somethings I really need. Well, things have really turned around for me in the past week. I met a girl named Yuko by chance through a Japanese travel information website and it just so happened that she is friends with one of the nice ladies that teaches at my school. So it was really easy to just meet since she knew I could be trusted. Ever since our first dinner out together, we've been having a lot of fun together. As a matter of fact, the past week has been a very enjoyable one for me. Yuko and I have really connected well and we're meeting just about every other night. It's been a great time getting to know her as a friend and I think she's going to be a real good one. What really makes things great is that we don't need to throw back a couple of cold-ones to have a good time. That's a relief, seeing as how we live about 30 minutes apart from each other by car.

Yuko and I spent the whole weekend together shopping and dining. I ended up spending about 21,000 yen ($180) on a whole new winter wardrobe that I really did need to buy. The clothes I brought with me from With some advice from Yuko and some free spending, I was able to dress myself well. We also checked out a nice little waterfall in the nearby mountains in Shosenkyo. We didn't make it there till sunset so my pictures are kind of crap, so we plan to visit there again for an afternoon maybe next weekend or whenever.

School has been pretty enjoyable too. The students are used to me now and seem to be comfortable with my teaching style. This week will be kind of interesting seeing as how I don't have any more classes the rest of this week. I had all my classes on Monday and the rest were cancelled due to being a little behind in other courses. So I will be sitting in my chair most of the day on Wednesday and Thursday. At least I have Friday off this week, maybe I'll make the most of that wasted time up on Friday doing something on my own. Next week is midterms week for my students and if it is anything like the last testing day, all my classes will be cancelled. I am going to see if I even have to show up to school on those days. If I don't, I may just screw around hiking in the nearby mountains or something.
Speaking of hiking and getting out, I've been running about 5k every night. I am starting to notice a difference in the amount of energy I have during the day and how my body feels. I still haven't lost any extra weight but I know I eventually will. I'm looking forward to that, it is a little embarrassing to see my stomach slightly bulge out when I sit. Either way, meeting Yuko has really inspired me to shape up and that is exactly what I plan to do!

Finally, we're near the end of today's post. My computer's been on the fritz as of late. My power button has been working sporadically for the past few weeks and it finally gave out Sunday morning without warning. When my power button stopped working, it also took out my integrated microphone and speakers. I was pretty bummed out about it so I took matters into my own hands and carefully opened up my laptop. I found that my laptop was built and designed very well and is very easy to repair, at least easier than older ones I've screwed around with. After taking out three small screws, I popped off the top trim media bar and found the problem. The primary power ribbon cable that connects my power button to the motherboard was severed slightly due to being bent beyond it's limit. So the thin wire has a bad contact. To my luck, the media bar control panel has the same gauge wire so I just swapped them temporarily. Now my speakers and mic work like a charm but I lost media bar functionality till I get a replacement in. I'll probably end up asking Matt or Enoch to send me a replacement in the mail. I just have to buy it somehow first. I found a replacement on ebay so I'll probably buy it that way and have it sent to one of my friend's homes. Shipping to Japan shouldn't be so bad since it is lighter than a sheet of paper and as long as a pencil. Either way, I am very happy and blessed it was an easily solvable problem.

So that's it for now. I got another dinner with Yuko this evening. We'll be going out for a little Yakiniku (Korean-BBQ) hopefully. It's been a while since I've had real good grilled meat. I'm not sure if I'll get a picture of Yuko any time soon but I probably won't post it on the blog either. So if you want to see it, you'll have to ask me to show it (ahem Kherri). Since my blog is public, it's probably best this way. I may eventually make my blog private, but I have noticed though GOOGLE analytics that people from Australia and New York read my blog too. I know one of my friends, Dave, in Australia reads it but I am getting more than just one hit from Australia. And New York, New York is just strange, I don't know anybody there. So, mystery blog visitors if you want to keep this public, speak up.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Like a finely aged bottle of wine.

Before I get into my newest personal discovery, I want to give a little break down of what's been going on since last week. It looks like my blog may become just a weekly deal by the way things are going here. I just don't sit in front of my laptop as half as much as I used to. Maybe if more stuff happens during the week that deserves it's own post, then I'll have an extra one or two posts a week.

Saturday was a kind of flop of sorts. I was expecting to hang out with Sayaka and her friends at their school festival for the day but plans changed. They forgot to mention that they were running a booth at their school and they weren't really free to go and do stuff with me for the day, so I ended up wasting part of my day waiting around to find that out. So in order to save the rest of the day, I decided to wander Kofu city. I made the most of the rest of my day checking out the castle ruins, which probably looks really awesome at night because it is decked out for Christmas with lights. I also wandered up the local hills and saw some really cool abandoned homes and other buildings. I bet that area would be super fun to check out at night if you are into 'haunted' stuff like I am.

That night, I ended up spending the evening with a few people I met during the Halloween party. A guy named Travis and his friend Nisa, kind of took me under their wing and showed me their town's night life. I had a great time wining and dining with them but blew a huge hole into my wallet. But, when I look back at all the stuff I ended up doing, it was well worth it.

Finally we get to this week. Nothing really special happened this week, it's pretty much another ho-hum run of the mill week with a small twist. Apparently my friend AD on a Japanese travel site was answered by a lady named Yuko. Yuko also happens to be a friend of one of the ladies that works at my school. So last night (Wednesday), we went out for dinner for our first meeting. We ended up spending about three hours just talking about random stuff. Yuko seemed pretty happy to meet me and I am glad to have met her too. She wants to meet me for dinner this Friday again, so that's pretty cool. As I get to know her better, I'll share more. Until then, Kherri, no pics/gifs/divx.
Now, back to the meaning title of this entry. I was just glancing in the mirror when I noticed something shiny in my hair. I thought I had something stuck in my hair so I ran my hand through it and found that it was a pair of silver hairs. I decided to leave them in there because they are under the top layer of my hair. I wonder how they got there in the first place. Could it be natural ageing, or was it stress? Who knows, but it looks like my body's showing its true mileage a little earlier than I expected. It looks kind of cool, but I am sure as more pop up, I'll probably not enjoy their presence as much. I'm only 26 for goodness sakes! At least I'm not balding...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Today was super fun.

I had an unusually good and very short day at school today. I was expecting today's class to suck because it was with my only quiet class. Getting them to say anything is like trying to put a cat into a bag. It just doesn't happen easily....

Today I had a breakthrough of sorts with my 'problem' class. The actual class was kind of dry and borderline sucky like it usally is but today something was a little different, today they talked to me after class. The found out I am an otaku. An otaku, for those who aren't familiar with the Japanese term, means fanatic (like a starwars nerd or Trekkie and the like). I don't openly share this particular hobby with many Japanese people I meet but they found out through subtle hints I contiuniously dropped during class. They finally got enough courage to just ask me in English and from there I knew I had a breakthrough. As a matter of fact, people I didn't expect to talk to me just opened right up and started to try to speak English with me. It completely blew my mind. So from now on I won't keep my hobby a secret from my students, but I'll still be careful about it around regular Japanese adults. It just isn't 'cool' to be an otaku, as a matter of fact some people would look down on me if they found out. That kind of sucks...

In other news, my friend Naoko made an unexpected visit to my city today. By coincidence, she came to Kofu on a business trip to check up on a branch shop of hers and met up with me for dinner. We ended up spending a couple of hours just chatting while eating delicious sushi. Naoko is a really nice friend, she always has a way of really cheering me up. I need more people like her around me. It was a nice way to finish this great day off.

This weekend I'm supposed to meet Sayaka and her friends at their college festival. Hopefully we'll get to hang out for a little while. I want to make more LOCAL friends here and they seem like the right kind of people. Maybe I'll even be able to meet more people at their school, which would be equally good. A male friend would be really helpful for improving my natural Japanese communication but girls are just as good too. Hopefully this weekend will be interesting and not too expensive. >_<

Monday, November 5, 2007

Best weekend so far

I've been incredibly busy over the past week and never thought of writing a blog entry until now. I think its been about a week since I posted anything. Sorry to anybody out there that actually enjoys reading my thoughts on a daily basis.

Nothing really happened during the work week. It was a pretty average week with the exception of attending a speech contest on Wednesday evening. My second grader got an honorable mention and probably would have placed in the top three if it weren't for a little slip up she had near the end. All in all I am very proud of how well my students did and hopefully the next time I have to coach for a speech contest, I will be able to give better advice.

The icing on the cake for last week was my weekend. I was pretty excited about my weekend for once because I had both days planned out. I went out for dinner/drinks with a couple of the teachers from my school on Saturday night and on Sunday I went to Tokyo to visit Naoko. Saturday was pretty fun and I got to know a couple of the teachers I work with a little better. I hope I can go out with them again soon but I'm not keeping my hopes up. The life of a Japanese school teacher is full of stress and hard work. They spend most of their days and evenings at school regardless of whether they are having classes or not. I feel sorry for them in a way but at least they think I'm worth the trouble to take a little time out of their busy lives to chill with me.

As for Sunday, it was pretty fun despite blowing about 100 bucks in one day. I wasn't intending to spend so much money but travel to Tokyo from where I live is very slow and expensive. I also got gouged for money at a day parking lot near the station where I left my car. Most of the money I spent on Sunday went just to the train trip and parking.

Naoko is a really good friend of mine. We've known each other since I was a Sophomore in college. I used to tutor her English conversation when she was studying abroad at SDSU. Now she works for Coach and seems to be really happy with her job. She was really happy to see me again and complimented me on how much my Japanese has improved. I honestly haven't noticed any improvement but I guess living out in the ol' boondocks really gives me the crash course in Japanese I needed. We ended up visiting a few places around Tokyo. I got to see the new Tokyo Midtown towers in Roppongi, and I did a little clothes shopping in Ueno. Near the end of the evening we went to a nice little Thai restaurant called "Golden Flame" in Shibuya. It ended up being some of the best and cheapest food I've eaten in Japan yet and I'm not particularly fond of Thai food either! The restaurant was a little hole in the wall restaurant off the main road. We would have never found it if it weren't for Naoko's keen sense of taste and direction. We ended up spending most of our time together eating and talking at the restaurant.

After dinner Naoko had to rush me onto my train because I had to work the next day and need to get home fairly early. I really wish I could have stayed longer or even for another day because we really didn't get to do much together with the short time we had. I think I spent more time on the train than I did in Tokyo! Next time I go to Tokyo by train I will fork over the extra 4000 yen to go by express train. It is well worth it because it cuts the transit time by 3/4! Instead of taking two and a half hours on the he regular train, the express train gets there in just an hour! I will also park in a cheaper area next time.

So that was it for my weekend. I ended up doing something for once that wasn't by myself! I hope I can keep doing at least one thing with another Japanese person on the weekend from now on. I hate being alone.