Thursday, November 30, 2006

Holiday Spirit.

I just thought of something else that I could say. Japan is nuts about christmas. I have never been a big fan of christmas, mostly because of getting lousy presents, and not being able to open them until the middle of the afternoon after mom got home from church. Christmas was especially not fun at Lincoln, take for example this sample conversation.
Student A: what did you get for christmas?
Student B: A Benz.
Me: That's cool, I got some socks.

Anyway, despite being completely secular, I always try to but a little hanukkah cheer into people's life, especially when they forget about other religions (speaking of religion, I wonder how many Japanese actually know that christmas was originally a religious holiday). Anyway, today at school, some kid in the international course wished me a 'merry christmas' to which I responded with my usual (sort of) 'why thank you, but I am Jewish'.
And so, in the spirit of the holidays, and Japan, I have made a Holiday Haiku!
It was 5-7-5 in Japanese, but I decided it would be much more fun to translate it literally into English.
Here we go:

Hate (informative statement). Why?

Happy nearing the end of the Gregorian calendar!



If my extension comes through, I will (no shit) be able to stay longer. But why? you ask. I now have figured out who I want to talk to, what I want to talk about, and how to talk about it, and that extra time gives me some more time to talk those talks, and create relations about those things. I have figured out (huge hand to Alex and Diego for that!) that the things that I wasn't liking were pretty insignificant, and that I shouldn't let stupid little shit like that get me down considering where I am, and how I am there.
Nan, it wasn't really a date, we just chatted for a little bit because she is really busy with school, but we are gonna hang out again sometime. We are planning to go to this Kabocha (a kind of squash) restaurant. That is one of the relationships that I would improve given the extra time.

Bout all I can think of for now.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Post 200.

I finally wrote something that I liked in calligraphy. It is really amazing to see how much it has changed over the past 7 months. I have never done much art type stuff and so I don't think I can draw/etc very well, but calligraphy is amazing, and I am finally realizing why people say I am good at it (to the extent that I have only been doing it for a short amount of time). But then, I do write about 5 hours a week.
In other art type things, I have started drawing a bunch, mostly because of architecture. I really like it. I think being an architect would be awesome, and I have some acquantances and books in the architecture/design world. My first job was working for the planning department of the Portland Office of Transportation, and that was great, I wish I could somehow combine those two a bit.
I had a nice talk with my counselor today, asking for an extension. I was originally supposed to leave at the end of January, but it looks like I got it extended until the end of March. I dont know all the facts, but I got the OK from WYS, which means I dont need to much more, and if WYS says OK, then I dont see why it shouldnt happen, but getting your hopes up sucks.

Thats about all I think of for now.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving.

Here is to 8 months in Japan! I forgot about the Fukuda's dinner which was unfortunate because I like talking with them, and the food is also always delicious. I also went with out dinner that day, but that had its own things, and I am grateful for that. More on that if it goes well, I am meeting her again next week.


ps. I wish I could have gone on the veloshop thanksgiving ride!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I am fucked in the head. I thought that things were started to look up as I started to care less about school in the sense that I was trying not to have everything get to me, but on monday morning, I had a meeting with my teacher. It was basically student teacher conferences. Mine was fucked. I am fucked. As things usually go with conversations like that I can't fully explain what was going on, but basically, he was upset that I wasn't doing better. He doesn't understand that I am working my ass of and am too exhausted to do anything in school. He doesn't seem to understand that you can learn from ways other than reading from a textbook. I told him that I had thought my time here would have been more fun, and what he said is basically that an exchange program like this isn't supposed to be fun. He said that in order to be an adult (he always calls me Peter chan, which is basically calling me a small child or animal, and it infuriates me.) that children need to have difficult experiences. You think this isn't difficult?!?!?! And I just couldn't tell him the truth.
And the truth is:
I don't really like it here. I am miserable, depressed, and always alone. I am ambivalent to my time in this country. I hate my school, I dislike my host family, and I don't care for myself much either. I have very few people I would call friends in general, and nobody that I really can just go and hang out with. I can't stand most of the kids in my school, and care even less for the ones in my class. My school was not the right place to put in by my exchange program. And I hate them too. They haven't showed me that are actually capable of anything. I have told that I am upset, that I want a new host family, that I am want an extension, and what do they do? Absolutely nothing. I want to stay here. I want to have fun, which is something that I really haven't done. I need some time to get to like this country, because if I leave like this, I won't want to come back. I have spent a quarter of my life preparing for this, and I leave in such a way that I never want to set foot on those islands again. That is not good for my health. I don' think being here is very good for my health either, but I think it is more important to stay here until I can learn to not hate it.

I dont know what the fuck to do, and it is really scaring me. Do I need a reason to be here? Because I sure dont have one. Do I need an 'objective'? My teacher asked me if how I was coming along with my objective, and I didnt know what he was talking about. But he isnt even my teacher. No one had properly explained anything to me about my school. Why that school was chosen, and in particular, why I was put in that class. According to my student ID card I am in the internation class, where most of the people I would call my friends are, and yet I get stuck with all the people who would rather study to fail a test than play and fail that test. The nurse (the Japanese who I have opened myself upto the most) thinks I should have been put in the standard classes, because it is much more like a normal Japanese lifestyle.

I need help. Really, really, really badly.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

When my Japanese didn't cut it.

I regret that I wasn't able to properly explain something in Japanese today. But on the other hand, if you look at what I was explaining, it makes it ok.

I was trying to explain a political cartoon in Japanese history. We were talking about the Russo-Japanese war (which I have studied, but in the US) and this time now I am studying it from the Japanese point of view. The political cartoon showed most of Asia, and Russia was like an octopus, with it's tentacles reaching out to where it was trying to gain a presence. My teacher didn't know what/where/why the tentacle was doing next to Turkey. I tried as best as I could to explain why Russia wanted a presence in Mediterriean, all sorts of fights between Russia and the Balkans, about the importance of the Bosphorus and the Dardenelles,........but I couldn't really do it very well.

I hope that at least trying makes Mr. Curry proud, because I learned all about it from him.

Thank you Mr. Curry!


I had a pleasant talk with Tom, who is my favorite of the native teachers at my school (his Japanese is the best of any of them) and we just talked for a bit about other foreigners, and about my problems. I cant really put everything that we talked about down, but I feel like it helped a lot more than most people's conversations.

Then, I walked on his advanced english class (for the returnees) today, and they were watching Lost! So I watched for a bit too.

Yeah, I am pretty lost in my own ways, but at least I didn't get gored by a boar. My pain isn't really the goring type.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Busy weekend.

Skipped school on saturday. Hung out with the Norie (Julie Fukuda's sister) and we went and saw this park that had a bunch of old Japanese houses. She is an architect and so she could tell me all about them. Then we went and saw modern architecture at this cool museum. Then we went to this wacky dance thing where I met her husband who is also an architect. We had dinner afterwords, and they got me home about midnight, which my mom was fine with (!?).
Met her again on sunday and we went and harvested rice in a field next to the forest which was the inspiration for the forest in the movie Tonari no Totoro (My neighbor Totoro). That was fun. Then I went to the Fukuda's for another amazing dinner.

I also got a flu shot yesterday. In the kitchen in the house I am staying in, because my host dad is a doctor and my host mom is a nurse.

The first picture is of this little boy who was with us and he is carry the bundles over to my hung up. The second is me cutting the rice. The man in the orange is the father of the boy, and the woman in the blue coat was a friend of the owner of the field. I had a nice talk with her and found out something absolutely amazing. Here is how the conversation went.

She: I was once and exchange student in the US too!

Me: really! where were you?

She: Missouri

Me: really, I lived in St. Louis for a number of years.

She: really? I stayed and went to school in a suburb of St. Louis called Brentwood.

Me: HOLY SHIT! Did you go to Brentwood High?

She: You know it?!?!?

Me: my dad used to teach there!

She graduated from Brentwood in 1989, so she never met my dad, but she knew several of the teachers that I remember!


ps. Brentwood eagles, purple, gold!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dilemma time! No complete sentences, just thoughts.

properly studying abroad is impossible. Properly would mean living like a member of your host country 24 hours a day which would take up all the time to study other things about that culture. You would of course learn something by living that way, but not as useful as studying just what you want
studying just want you want about the culture doesnt let you see the culture properly because everything is linked together and you wouldnt properly understand something unless you know all about something else, which would take a lot of other time but first you haveto study something else and so on and so on
I hate the people who just study what they want because they are ignoring everything else and thus they arent spending their time abroad properly, but arent they learning something too? they also look so happy which is really appealing to me.
I wanna meet people but I dont want to but I dont want it to be because I am foreign, I dont want to meet people with English, but I am so lonely.
Do I fight for what I thought I believed or do I fight for what they give me? Try to make a difference or change myself into something that, as of right now, I loathe?

do I need a reason to be here?

can anyone out there give me hand?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Suck. It!


Hardons in public. AKA, Cycle Mode International 2006.

I am cooler than you, but how much?
Have you:
ridden the new SRAM foce/rival systems?
ridden a bike with 2007 XTR?
how about an official Shimano XTR demo bike?
touched a Colnago ForEver?
ridden a Ridley Excalibur?
ridden carbon tubulars?
ridden a Cervelo Soloist Carbon?
ridden a Cervelo R3?
all for free?

If you answered 'no' to any of the above questions, I win.

Oh yeah, I also met Ivan Basso.
He may not have done drugs before the tour, but he sure was on them at the signing!

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I skipped school today, and it felt great! I kicked back in the morning, and then went to meet Hidetoshi and we went to Waseda's bunkasai. It was mobbed! We walked around and saw stuff and ate stuff for asbout 2 hours, and then he had to go. I stayed for a bit longer, and went over to the other campus, where there was some art stuff that I wanted to see. I saw the calligraphy, which was fun, and then I went to a thing exchange and tried to teach the people english in exchange for a scarf, but the scarf wasn't very nice, so I left. I then went to the art space and that was fun. There were three guys sitting on the floor, chatting, eating, reading, whatevering, with a sign that said "please become a friend" and "please say something" So, I said something, and we started talking. I will go to meet them tonight, because that is what they do. Every saturday night at the east exit of Ikebukuro station, they sit, eat, chat and try to get people to sit, eat, and chat with them! Which, is exactly what I need, people to talk to.

On my way home, my phone rang, and it was the professor from Teikyo University! We told said that the professor he wanted to introduce me to would be coming in soon, and asked if I would please come to their office. I hella hurried there, and met the teacher, and we talked for over an hour, and it was great. Her speciality is teaching Japanese to foreigners. She teachs how to learn Japanese. He chatted about this and that, and she is going to introduce me to some students, which will nice. We were chatting, and somehow (as can be the case with me) we started talking bikes. But, she could talk bikes too! She lives in Tachikawa, a very short distance from the Keirin track, and goes occaisionally!! We talked bike racing and horse racing for a little bit!

I am gonna go Cycle Mode International 2006 tomorrow.


fun news: Myspace released MyspaceJapan which might be nice because I might be able to meet some Japanese highschoolers that way, but what is bad for me, is that it detected that I am in Japan, so it turned my page into Japanese! So now, all of the controls of Myspace and Blogger are in Japanese. At least I know how to blog in Japanese!


Most of the times are true.
4:00 wake up, get dressed eat
4:35 leave the house
4:50 train 1 (17 minutes)
5:17 train 2 (22 minutes)
5:39 arrive at Tokyo station, run for the Shinkansen, no seats on the first train, wait
6:05 train 3 (shinkansen 1, 142 minutes)
8:27 arrive in Kyoto station, change to the Nara line
8:35 must not sleep! can coffee 1 (Roots Inspiration)
8:50 train 4 (43 minutes)
9:33 arrive in Nara! walk to the national museum
10:00 arrive at the Nara National Museum
10:01 the guard where the line is for people with tickets
10:01.5 "over there, but it will take about 3 hours"
10:03 pick jaw off ground, go to the end of the line
10:08 reach the end of the line
11:ish get in the museum! get the English head set, begin!!!!!!
Walk about the museum see the 1250+ year old national treasures.
1:ish museum gift shop! I wish I had brought more money (T-T) Get the English version and the Japanese version of the catalog.
wander around Nara for a couple hours and see: the real Shosoin, various other temples, Kofukuji, the mauseleum where the dude who got Shosoin erected for him is. While I was there, I asked these two older women a question "So, this is the mauseleum of Syomu Tennou, right, the same Syomu Tennou of Shosoin fame, right?" "yes" "So, if you compare the two, what happened? Did he like run out of money of something? I want to be dead in nature too, but this is kinda anticlimactic." Talked and walked with these two women for an hour or so, we got some Nara speciality foods, then they went home. I walked slowly back to the station, stopped in a couple of calligraphy stores, get to Nara station.
train 5 (43 minutes)
get to Kyoto, spend a little bit of time wandering around the station area, go to starbucks, get a milkshake with a shot of espresso, sit next to a beautiful young lady and chatted with her for a little bit, wish I had asked her to show me around, because I still had over an hour before my train (T-T)
7:15ish, go back to the station, get to the Shinkansen boarding area, get some stuff for the train, a bottle of tea, gum, and some coffee
7:25 must not sleep! can coffee 2 (Boss W.E.B.)
7:46 train 6 (shikansen 2, 140 minutes)
on the train, must not sleep! can coffee 3 (Georgia Deepresso, Best. Name. Ever.)
10:06 arrive again in Tokyo
10:17 train 7
What do you mean it doesn't go all the way? Damn, wrong train.
10:30 train 8
10:39 arrive in Ikebukuro
10:40 train 9
10:51 reach my station
10:59 arrive home! before my curfew too! but we wont talk about rules
Can not sleep! too much bad coffee (T-T)
work on Halpern papers
1:30 sleep

Can you beat it?


Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I had a really shitty Halloween. It was the first time in like, 12 years that I didnt go trick or treating, but thats kinda because they dont really have Halloween in Japan, except for expat bars, and I hate expats. I went out anyway, just for the spirit of Halloween, ate some candy, had a milkshake, but didnt have a lot of fun. Then I looked at pictures of the Halloween cyclocross race in Portland and started crying.

I went for a bike ride day after school. I rode for about 90 minutes, and had a pleasant ride, dispite a crash. I dont really know what caused it, but it wasnt very fast or bloody, so I just put my chain back on and road home. It is getting colder, so I wore my knee warmers, but my knees still hurt a little.



Scott, last I recalled neither China or Japan liked Korea, and Korea didn't seem to like them very much either. And I'm not even gonna start with the North.
Dash, I think you missed a couple.
Jiying, the new prime minister is a pretty interesting sounding guy, and he has been talking (successfully?) with both China and Korea, and the initial results at least look positive. The economy could certainly brighten up.

I think it is now time for me to announce a plan of mine. I am still waiting to hear back from my older brother about this, but I think I might try to get his old job teaching English at the Zhenhua school in Suzhou. Yeah, I think my next country will be China.

Which makes this really good timing: I was standing at the station talking with a friend of mine, and a man standing next to us, interrupts and starts asking me questions. He is a professor at Teikyo University, and does a lot of exchange student things, in particular China(!) and wanted to talk to me about my exchange. I am going to meet him after school at the Teikyo University, which is like 60 seconds from my school.

Then on Friday I go to Nara for a day to see the annual Shosoin exhibition. Shosoin is a very old wooden building, in which hundreds of ancient royal treasures are stored. The exhibit is at the local museum, and I will go down early in the morning and come back late at night, because on Saturday I am meeting Hidetoshi and he is gonna show me around Waseda, and then on Sunday I am going to a bike trade show!