Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Flying home

I booked my flight home yesterday. I've been worried about getting a decent price on a ticket home. It's impossible to get one for less than $1000, especially flying as close to Xmas as I am. So I'm taking a couple days off beforehand so I can fly back at a reasonable time and price. Getting home the day before Xmas wouldn't be so fun.

I fly out of Narita at 3:45pm on December 21st, and after a short layover in Detroit, I'll touch down in Indy a bit after 4pm the same day. If only it took 30 minutes for the flight. I'm sure I'll be going stir crazy after 14 hours on a plane. Going across the dateline is always weird that way.

Then I'll leave on January 7th in the morning and arrive in Tokyo after 4pm on the 8th. I'll probably get home around 7pm, just in time to go to sleep because I'll be so jet-lagged and then have to get up and go to work on the 9th. ugh

I don't think jet lag will be that bad coming back to Japan this time. Before, I would wake up completely wired and alert at 6am, but by 7:30 or 8pm I'd be crashing. Working for Nova, I wouldn't finish until 9pm, and since it took me almost 2 weeks to get through the jet lag, it was hell. But this time it'll be almost exactly like my normal schedule, so no big deal. I hope.

More vacation...already?

So after a 6-week summer break, and a string of 3-day weekends, the board of education has seen fit not to have Julian nor I work next week. So we'll have 11 days straight off. It'd be nice if we'd actually get a decent paycheck before they do this, but I'll survive. I can't complain much if they're gonna pay me anyway.

We're looking at heading down to Hachijojima, the 7th and final in a string of volcanic islands that are directly south of Sagami Bay where I live. I used to be able to see the closest and biggest one, Ooshima, from my apartment on the 12th floor downtown, but only on clear days. Hachijojima will be about 11 hours by overnight ferry from Tokyo. We'll stay a couple of nights in a minshuku, a cheap Japanese inn. The inn will probably be an experience, considering they don't get many foreigners out there. I hear tell there's an Aussie who moved out there recently and opened up a bar, but I'll believe it when I see it. I can tell you how it'll go: the innkeeper will only speak a dialect of Japanese we can't understand, I'll smack my head more than a few times on ridiculously low doorframes, and they'll serve us pan-fried whole fish with fermented soy beans and some sort of seaweed paste for breakfast.

All in all, I'm quite looking forward to it. Julian says the island is famous for a type of flying fish that is fermented in soy beans for months on end and comes out so foul-smelling that even mainland Japanese gag at the stench. Can't wait to try it!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Travel galore

So, after coming back from a 6 week summer vacation, I've had 3 3-day weekends in a row. Next week will be my second 5-day workweek since sometime in July. Because I didn't work in August, I only get paid 60% of my full-time salary. Somehow a hole managed to work its way into my schedule, and I now end up with time off from Oct. 1st through the 11th. So the question is, what the heck am I going to do with myself. There are so many places I want to visit, but they all require money. Coincidentally, my crap paycheck arrives the day before I start my surprise vacation. Any suggestions? I'm thinking Thailand. I never thought I'd bitch about getting a vacation.

Monday, September 19, 2005

One Other Thing

Tonight I downloaded Google Earth. It's the coolest program I've seen in a while. I found my home back in Zionsville, the resolution was good enough that I could see the speck that is my derelict car sitting in my parents' driveway. (Btw, if anyone wants a used BMW, I got one for ya cheap) I also found my current apartment in Hiratsuka, Ana's apartment, and the radio antenna on top of the nearby mountain Shonandaira. I was able to spot my old apartments in Madrid, although these were more rough guesstimations since it's more difficult to assess exactly which part of the block it's in. All in all, really cool stuff and I highly recommend checking it out, if for nothing more than to see your house. Also, if you ask, I can try and send you the position of my apartment in Japan if anybody wants to see where I live.

OK, that's enough, I'm really going to bed now. I can't believe I have to go to bed at 10pm. I feel like a little kid.

Notes on Nothing

Well, a week without posting isn't so bad. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things. Work seems odd now after so many weeks away. It's not helped by the fact that I have only had one full workweek since I returned. Three of my weekends in September are 3 day weekends. It would be great if I had the money to go anywhere. Basically I'm left to sit around and try not to spend too much.

Like I posted before, this month is the birthday month. Mine was the 7th, Ana's roommate Erin had hers on the 15th. Damien is this Friday and Amanda's is next Sunday. My roommate Tracey celebrates hers on the 1st of October, which for proximity's sake, we can add here. So that's a lot of birthdays to prepare for. And since they all got me nice things, I'm gonna have to scrounge up some sort of knickknack to give them. Giving presents always makes me nervous. I don't enjoy getting presents I can't use or consume. The worst are things that serve no real purpose, not even decorative, but will sit in the back of your closet or sit on display only when that person comes over. Since that's how I feel, I'd hate to give someone a present like that. Much better a good experience or something consumable. That's why I like giving bottles of wine so much. It's more enjoyable. Oh well, I'm sure something will come up. I just haven't decided yet.

And that's my note on nothing for today. Maybe I'll tap something up tomorrow. It's steak night, so I'm gonna plug myself full of steak.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Brief Update

So I've been diving back into work and having my birthday, so I've been a little busy, and there just hasn't ever been time to write. Although I guess that happens a lot. So here are some highlights of my time.

I had my birthday on the 7th. Ana and Julian tried to organize a surprise party for me, inviting lots of friends along. It was good, though not really a surprise after Julian let it slip when they were still organizing it. I got some great presents, a box from home that my mom filled with microwave popcorn and a 1 gig memory card for my camera. Ana and Damien got me a recipe book and a bunch of kitchen utensils. I think it's a hint since I always go to Ana's for dinner but haven't had them up that often to my place. I got a photo book of Tokyo from my roommate Tracey, and Miwa gave me a book to help me study Japanese. I've applied to take the Japanese Proficiency Test in December - at the lowest level, of course - so I need to study more.

Work's been alright. There were four ALTs: myself, Julian, and this Canadian couple from Fujisawa's sister city. One of the couple finished his contract in August, so they both took off to Calgary and called from there to say they wouldn't hang around. The head people changed everything around and gave me completely different schools to go to. So I have to spend this month saying goodbye to all the students and teachers at the schools. Fortunately, Julian gets all of mine, including one that takes forever to get to, and I'm sure I'll hear about them all from him.

That's about it, except I haven't slept well this weekend (too much going out) and it's late here so I need my beauty sleep. I'll try to write more later.