Monday, December 31, 2012

GTFO 2012!

I still have people reading this blog, I suppose.

I have neglected my poor blog for so long now. It has been MONTHS since I last updated. Terrible. I hope you'll forgive my absence.

I moved back home, went through a horrible transition period of reverse homesickness and constant self-doubt, and now I've come out at the other end of the tunnel with a brighter outlook on my future. I applied to a graduate program and am working, though I'll hopefully find a better paying job in the new year. If I'm accepted into school I won't start until next August or September, so I have time to do things. What things I don't know, but if something comes along I'll have fun.

2012 was good to me. Good enough, anyway. Taught some English, traveled a little, met a bunch of wonderful people in Japan, met another bunch of wonderful people when I came back. I miss my concrete jungle, as frustrating as it is to live in sometimes, but at the same time I'm okay with having returned to Hawaii.

According to the Chinese Zodiac and feng shui things my mother does, I'm going to have an awful year and I have to put random things around my room and the house to protect myself from the fates from murdering me. The fire rabbit and water snake don't get along. Hope I don't die.

I don't know where this blog will be going, since I'm not in Japan and I have no plans to go back at the moment. Living on a rock SUCKS so much, I am so bored you have no idea. I'll try to make it work.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Last Gift

I won't say I hated my job with every fiber of my being, though it felt very near to it at times. My students and their hilarious antics helped me endure even the worst days and I'll miss some of them dearly.

On my very last day, the mother of one of my favorite students gave me this box. I didn't open it in front of her and I was half certain it was something I'd keep out of guilt rather than genuine appreciation.

To my most pleasant surprise, I opened it to find a gorgeous wind chime. I had been looking for one to take home with me and I figured I'd settle for a cheap one from a 100yen shop. I was shocked to receive this hand-painted glass orb from a department store. I hadn't said anything to anyone about wanting one, I'd only been thinking about it. 

I don't want it to blow away in the wind or break on the balcony so it's staying inside for now.

The same mother also sent a card with photos to my Hawaii address. She said the family will come to visit the islands next year and she'd like to see me then. I don't know if her son will remember me, but I look forward to it nonetheless.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


When I came home two weeks ago, I was immediately overwhelmed with the amount of things in my room.

I threw out a lot when I left my old apartment - books, clothes, bedding, the crap on my balcony that was left from previous teachers that none of the Japanese staff at my school felt they needed to deal with - but I still managed to send home five decent-sized boxes. It was a task that took two months.

To organize my room in Hawaii is going to take that long or longer.

Yeah, it's a freaking mess. I have so far received four of the five big boxes I sent myself. They aren't as big as I remember them to be. I ripped open the two I got today and was like WOOT CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST! WHAT DID I SEND MYSELF??? I also found that everything has a funny, gasoline-like stench! I managed to separate colors and whites and delicates but didn't quite make it to washing it all. The first two boxes didn't stink, I put everything away just fine. Ugh.

Before the postman attacked me with my stuff, I did manage to give away a box overflowing with old clothes. I threw out at least a dozen bottles of grody nail polish and all my old make-up. I got rid of every little maybe-one-day-I'll wear/use/need-it thing I could. I'M GETTING THERE OKAY IT'S A PROCESS.

I have a bunch of mini-projects under the big umbrella goal of ORGANIZATION.

  • Burn and get rid of all the CDs I can bear to part with right now.
  • Put all my trinkets and doo-dads in one place so I can give them away to friends easily.

The half you can see - my stuff.
The half you can't see - mom's stuff.

I can't throw out everything because a portion of it belongs to my parents, who used my empty closet space for their belongings. I have no plans set in stone for living in Hawaii or moving to colder climates, so getting rid of winter clothes might be a bad idea. I did leave with most of my big dresser empty (a pleasant surprise) and there are a lot of half-empty containers in my closet.


My third box of GET THIS CRAP OUT OF HERE items.

Seriously I have to steam or hand wash all those scarves
because they smell like disgusting container ship EW.

Doing all of this has forced me to examine how I acquired all of it and the attitude I have toward material things.

I thought I did a pretty good job in Japan about not buying useless things. I tried to ask myself the following:






I should have started asking myself these questions a long time ago! Then I wouldn't have to get rid of so much JUNK now because I wouldn't have bought it in the first place ughhh.

I do feel bad about throwing things out that were given to me as gifts. Screw whatever I bought when I wanted to be stupid with my money, but presents that people took time to pick out for me or they just had to buy it for me when they saw it or whatever... that's hard. Photos are hard to throw out as well, but I haaaaaaaaate trying to organize photo albums bleh.

In other news, I applied for a real job and I'm just kinda waiting around for that. I'll be cleaning if you need me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Things I Miss About Japan #13: Sunscreen

I'm back home and BOY does it kinda suck.

Shopping isn't what I've grown accustomed to. Not just for clothes, but beauty products and household items in general. One thing I REALLY REALLY REALLY came to love was Japanese liquid sunscreen and even aerosol sunblock, like this stuff:

They're so much lighter and smell much better than American ones. They soak into my skin quickly and leave a very faint scent that only I can smell if I put my arm right up against my nose and inhale. These work just as well as the thick gross stuff we normally use in America.

There's even weird powder sunblock in five fun cloud puff things. It leaves your skin looking like a Stephanie Meyer vampire so I didn't buy one but it's interesting.

I never bothered with sunblock in America is because it STINKS. Everyone within 10 feet of me knows I'm wearing it. On top of that, I feel it on my skin and sweating off AND IT'S GROSS. When I played water polo in high school, I'd purposefully glob that stuff on so I'd be slippery in the water and my opponents couldn't keep a grip on me. It's okay to be stinky and greasy in the pool, just not anywhere else.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found that Neutrogena sells a watery liquid sunscreen!

I bought a bottle to compare to my favorite Japanese brand. I'll admit I use a lot of Neutrogena acne care and face wash products so I've some brand loyalty going on here, but I honestly haven't seen anything else like this.

Both are compact and purse-friendly. The Nivea one is on sale in Japan for like 300-400 yen, so about $5/bottle. The Neutrogena one was like $11 ugh. I'm no expert at this crazy metric system, but I'm pretty sure milliliters equal the same amount of space or something as grams, so the Nivea one has more sunblockin' goodness in it. Like double. FOR HALF THE PRICE WTF.

AND IT DOESN'T EVEN GO ON THE SAME. The Nivea one is thinner and spreads a lot easier than the Neutrogena one. The Neutrogena sunscreen is far more to my liking than most American sunscreens but it's still icky and kinda smelly and meh. Nivea is on the left, Neutrogena on the right.

Thankfully they both soak in pretty quickly. I couldn't tell a difference between the two once they were dry.

EDIT: I put on quite a bit of the Neutrogena one today and my hands feel chalky. I've washed my hands more than once but it still feels weird. It also feels a bit greasy on my arms, so ew not using this unless I have to.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My 3-hour Layover in Korea~

IT KIND OF SUCKED, but only because most of the locals I met lived up to the stereotype of All Koreans Are Rude.

As part of my flight path back home, I had to change airports in South Korea. I took off from Haneda, landed at Gimpo, and flew from Incheon back to Honolulu.

I was a bit worried about the airport change, but everyone I talked to assured me that it wouldn't be too bad. Indeed, all the signage was in clear English and easy to understand. If you have half a brain and can navigate through Tokyo's mess of subways and train lines, getting between Gimpo and Incheon is a breeze.

I packed light and only had my small purple carry-on, not expanded, and my backpack with my laptop. I didn't want to wait around for my luggage at the carousel and drag it all through Korea.

The first rude person I interacted with on my trip was the immigration lady at Gimpo. She did not say ANYTHING to me - no indication for me to move forward, no greeting, no instructions throughout the screening process. She snapped at me when she looked over my papers, "Where is your Korean address?"

"I'm going straight to Incheon."

After that she put my passport back on the counter and said nothing, so I left.

I made it to Incheon with time to spare. Even took some photos!

"I'm that Korean actor from You're Beautiful that you cannot escape.

Welcome to Incheon"

There's an ice skating rink!

"If I let go right now I will die."

A lot comfier and aesthetically pleasing than most airports.

I had to check in for my second flight, so I went toward the dozen or so counters for Korean Air. It seemed like half the check-in wing was dedicated to Korean Air, and they have a slightly different check-in counter system than most airports. They ask you to check in according to what kind of traveler you are - if you're in a tour group, family, with baggage, without baggage, etc.

I passed the No Baggage Check-In once and saw the one male employee behind the counter flirting with some woman, maybe his off-duty girlfriend. I didn't want to go over and disrupt Korean Rico Suave but I also didn't want someone else yelling at me for going to the wrong check-in counter, so I went over to him.

"I need to check-in."

Guy was obviously miffed. "Don't you have to check your luggage?"

"No." I handed him my passport and his woman disappeared around the corner.

I got that done and decided I needed a snack. I bought a Coke and the worst onigiri I have ever eaten at a shop, and the girl didn't even put it in a freaking bag. CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT I HAVE ONE HAND FULL WITH MY LUGGAGE AND MY WALLET IN THE OTHER HAND?

I went to security and the officer weighed my bag and my suitcase. "It's overweight combined. You have to check one." JESUS CHRIST, I saw NO ONE else go through that. So I went and checked in the carry-on, again with rude employees who don't know how to greet people, say thank you, or generally interact with customers. I almost forgave the girls who were standing around to manage the line, because they lifted the seatbelt-looking thing to let me through, but they just went back to chatting and overall looking unprofessional.

I got to the gate and I thankfully did not have to deal with anyone else, but I couldn't believe how the employees acted. The guy at the gate had his iPhone out and was busy texting someone for 10 minutes. A girl who came by with supplies for the plane was talking on her phone, running her cart into the door because she didn't have a proper grip on the thing BECAUSE SHE'S GOT HER HEAD COCKED NEXT TO HER SHOULDER AS SHE CHATS MINDLESSLY WHILE NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT SHE'S DOING. And another employee wearing a shirt 3 sizes too small was generally dismissive of a customer who came up and asked a question.

The flight attendants on the plane were much better. Even more so because I was randomly upgraded to business class. LAY FLAT BEDS FTW.

Long story short, maybe I'll go back to visit Korea but I sure as hell am not living there. THEY'RE SO RUDE.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Square One

I've been back in Hawaii for almost a week now.

I spent 3 days at home wishing I could go back to Japan. I haven't moved past that mentality, but I am venturing outside.

Made myself sick by sleeping at weird hours and not trying to acclimate to a new time zone.

I still have things left to say about Japan and my experiences teaching, but I'm not motivated to write anything at the moment.

I am not abandoning this blog. Just a holiday.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sky Tsuriiiiiiii

We stood behind them in line for the ticket booth.
Guy on the left had Chef-like hair but Chef is way more kakko ii~

Sumida River

Sky Tree is kind of difficult to say in Japanese. It's very unnatural for me to move my tongue, face muscles, and jaw to form the word. I like saying it anyway.

Don't go unless you plan on spending way too much money.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Old and New Pepsi!

I kept an old Pepsi Pink in my fridge since like... I don't even know when. It was okay.

And yesterday I found Salty Watermelon Pepsi!

"Salty" drinks in the summer don't actually taste salty, but they contain more sodium to replace the salt you lose when you sweat in the disgusting Japan summer heat.

Salty Watermelon Pepsi had a weak melon flavor and was forgettable. I took a few sips and sort of gave up on it.

Blue Hawaii is still the best weird Pepsi I've had, and that was four long years ago! Get it together, Pepsi. Geez.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I gave my cool kids drawings on postcards with my contact info.
Zombie Moldy Shokupan Man, FrankenMario, and Count Pikachu.

This is Uhn's version of Pikachu.

I didn't say anything about leaving, per Manager's stupid request,
so I didn't get that many gifts.

But I reread part of my renewal of my contract, and I can't talk about the company for a full year! DAMNIT. Oh well. So long as I don't specifically name the horrible awful no good company I worked for, right? Maybe.

I will say that I don't think the company I worked for will be around for much longer. If their current business practices continue, max two years (then we might have a "new" company like there's a "new" Nova). There have been rumblings of trouble for quite some time and bad things are finally starting to happen. I'm glad that I got out when I did.

I'll miss a few of my kids, maybe about a dozen out of more than 60. My oldest, Mittens, did email me so I hope we'll stay in touch. I haven't heard from anyone else yet but I won't be holding my breath. I'm just glad to be done with this job and out of that miserable work environment.

I don't know what I'll do next, but for now I'm going to enjoy my last few days in Japan. When I get home I'll take a break and play a little before really looking for another job. I got a fairly good exit package so I'm not worried about money just yet.

Definitely more DRINKING before heading back into the work force.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Unable or Unwilling

I can't decide which. Regardless, I'm done for the day. DONE.

Tomorrow will be better.

Miss/Won't Miss #12

Things I'll Miss About Japan #12: Outstanding Customer Service
Things I Won't Miss About Japan #12: Being That Gaijin No One Wants to Deal With

No one kisses my ass like they do in Japan. The staff at shops, bars, restaurants, train stations, almost everywhere are very polite and helpful. The standards for customer service are ridiculously high in Tokyo and I must give props to the men and women who serve everyone else.

I've worked my fair share of mall jobs and I would not be able to do it to the same extent they do on a daily basis. I know what it's like to be on your feet all day and have rude, demanding, entitled people in your face for upwards of 8 hours. I've worked on major holidays in retail and restaurant jobs. It sucks.

There have been times where I've gotten the staff member that does not deal with gaijin, period. The girl who totally doesn't care if she makes my sale or not, even if she didn't have to help me with anything other than getting something from the stock room. The waitress who looks away when I walk in a restaurant, assuming I couldn't possibly speak enough Japanese to make her look stupid (it was a kaiten zushi and I spoke to the chef behind the conveyor belt without any problems).

But I've also had a lot of people be extremely patient with me, knowing that I was a foreigner and didn't speak a whole lot of Japanese. I wish I could tip those servers or do something nice for the people who put up with me and still try to go the extra mile to take care of me. I was on the phone with some poor soul at the trash disposal office for like 20 minutes arranging for items to be picked up. I wish I could've spoken to his supervisor to tell him to give that  man a raise.

We'd make customers fight tooth and nail for damage discounts at one store I worked at, and the one time I did get one here I didn't even ask for it. I was looking at a pair of shoes and asked for a pair that didn't have one super tiny little scuff, but it was the last pair the girl offered me 15% off. I would've bought them at full price, I honestly didn't care.

And I was reminded again tonight about how awesome they treat you here. I didn't change the sign on my door to have housekeeping clean the room. I don't really care if they come in or not, I don't need a fresh towel every day and I'm sure the maids don't mind having one less bed to make. When I came back to my room, however, I found this on the door.

A whole 'nother set of towels, a fresh yukata, and a bathroom set in a bag! THEY DON'T DO THIS IN AMERICA. I realize this is a nicer hotel and I don't get the chance to stay in nicer hotels all that often, but I've never had this happen at any hotel in Waikiki. Totally keeping the paper bag.