So I finished classes on July 15th, and I've had the past week off to enjoy some R&R before I get down to the hardcore R&R when I go to Vietnam. I spent the time doing mostly mundane stuff like cleaning the apartment - something I hadn't done lately and was probably driving my roommate Tracey crazy - and reading. I've been reading "My Life," Bill Clinton's autobiography. I'm into the 2nd volume of the paperback series, but I probably won't finish it before I go to Vietnam, which means I'll have to give it back to Ana and wait til I return to finish. He's an interesting guy, and seems a lot smarter and shows much more humility than we're usually led to believe from the media of the time. I also tore through the new Harry Potter book. It wasn't as good as the previous ones, I think the 4th one was Rowling's peak. But that's what that kind of pressure and expectation will do to a person. I wish they'd lay off her and let her work at her own pace, but that's not how the world works, I guess.
When I didn't have my nose stuck in a book or a grimy corner of my house, I spent a lot of time hanging out with my good friend Miwa, who's back from Valparaiso. She spent the last couple years studying at Ivy Tech there. She's graduated now and is looking for a permanent job. I hope she finds one around here since I enjoy her company and I don't relish returning to only chatting online or by email. Last night we went to the beach to watch the fireworks with some other random Hiratsuka gaijin. I went to a festival of floating lanterns at Enoshima island with Ana, Damien, and Amanda. Steak night was on the 20th, so a few of us went there also, where one guy tried to down a kilo of undercooked meat, which didn't sound like a good idea beforehand, and didn't look very pretty afterwards, either. On the way, we managed to stumble upon a gang of sweaty Japanese guys carrying an o-mikoshi (portable shrine) down the street in one of the myriad neighborhood festivals that go on throughout the summer. I also tried to make another trip up O-yama with my friend Kanako, recently returned from Vancouver for study. She had some trouble with the stairs, so we decided to rest and have our picnic at the shrine halfway up, until we were chased out by a gignatic bee that sent Kanako screaming and me flapping my hat around like a loon. So we sat in the restaurant up there and enjoyed tofu ice cream (which was pretty good, but didn't taste at all like tofu).
So, check out the photos page for some more photos from my week off and check out Damien's and Ana's pages for a different photographic perspective.
I'll clean up and pack, then it's off Tuesday for Vietnam for 4 weeks. It should be a good trip, although probably there will be some lonely spells since I'm going solo. I hope to meet some people and make friends along the way, but you never know what happens. I'm taking along Gabriel Garcia Marquez's autobiography, Vivir Para Contarla (Living to Tell the Tale), in Spanish. Hopefully it'll take me the whole time to read it so I don't end up lugging a book I've read as well as trying to hunt down a new one to read. I'll try to post before I leave with a rough itinerary of what I'm doing. I should be able to post from abroad, since internet cafes are supposed to be rather prevalent. Let's hope so.