Well, I'm sitting here in Hiratsuka again, with a bad case of jet lag/insomnia. The trip back was decidedly unpleasant. Because of the start of spring break for Americans, I had to make two connections. The first was a short, inevitable layover in Chicago, and the second was one in Seattle. I didn't mind too much, because it broke up the flights and meant that instead of a 14-hour flight, I had a 4-hour flight, a 2-hour break where I got a final Qdoba burrito (mmm, Mexican) and a Starbucks Seattle coffee mug, then took off across the ocean to Japan.
My trip home was great, but there certainly wasn't enough time to see everyone. I was able to make a couple out-of-Indy visits: one to Purdue to see some old ballroom friends plus Sam, and the second to Columbus, OH, where my aunt lives. I stayed in her house which lies just outside the historic German Village district. Granted, the houses are too expensive for me to ever afford, but if I had to return to the Midwest to live, I'd try to find an area similar to that. It had restaurants, bars, a grocery store, and a city park, all withing walking distance. Not to mention that the downtown area was only a 30 minute stroll. It'd take only 10 minutes by bicycle, which is about how long it took me to drive and find parking. The trip was slightly disappointing, however. I was able to meet Amanda and her fiance, a really cool guy named Ish (at least, I think that's how it's spelled). We hit a famous German (what else, it's the German Village!) restaurant called Schmidt's. The sausage was tasty, the sauerkraut sour, and the beer came in ginormous steins. The sad part was that I wasn't able to visit my high school friend Meredith, she's pregnant with her second child and has been having some difficulties, so she was in the hospital getting needed nutrition. Her husband said it's not serious, just really bad morning sickness. I hope she gets well and produces another healthy, happy Healy.
Back in Indy, my time was mainly divided between family, my high school friends, and Ana and Damien, who are currently living in the Fountain Square district downtown. It was really nice to see people, though I didn't get to see everyone I'd hoped to. I did get to have lunch with my friend Chris, a lady I worked with a long time ago during a summer job at a bad insurance company.
Overall, it was good to be back, though I was disappointed by some things. I'd gone back with a hankering for the foods I'd enjoyed before I left that aren't available in Japan, namely buffalo wings. But they just left a bad feeling in my stomach, as did a few other dishes. Unfortunately, social obligations kept me from eating at home with my parents. Despite these complaints, I did have some very good culinary experiences. There's a really good restaurant on Main Street in downtown Zionsville, called Plum's Upper House. Since there's not microwave or freezer, everything's made fresh and served as quickly as possible - even the bread dough is made on premises daily. A bit pricey for lunch ($15-20 for entree, drink and dessert), but it's tasty and will fill you up. Another was
a diner in Fountain Square I went to with Ana and Damien. It looks like a short-order diner, but the food that comes out is well-made and delicious.
Another surprising thing was the size of drinks in the States. I went to Starbucks and ordered a coffee. The smallest available size was equal to the medium size at a Japanese Starbucks, though both were priced about the same. I guess it's a thing about value, and I could have just drunk only half of it, but that would be wasteful. It's a perversion of the adage "waste not, want not." One of the reasons Americans are so big is that we eat (and drink - beverages nowadays have as many calories as some meals) so much. In my opinion, the American mindset is one of, 'look how much I can get, it's so cheap,' rather than one of 'how good is the quality, and do I really need that much of it.' I'm the first to admit I get caught in this trap quite frequently and don't realize it until I'm bursting at the seams.
Speaking of which, I went to the gym on Sunday, the day after I arrived back in Japan. I weighed myself after the workout (which was awfully painful. No exercise and excessive eating/drinking left my normally robust legs shaking by the end) and found I'd gained 4.2 kg above my weight before leaving, which itself was a couple kilos above what I was last year. When I started working out I was in the mid-70 kilo range and over time as my muscles built up I slowly gained until the fall when I was about 78 kg. I think the winter padding I gained plus my 0n-again-off-again workout schedule bumped me up to 80 kg as of the beginning of March this year.
All this means that I'm very glad I went clothes shopping at the beginning of my trip, when I was still the same shape. The last time I bought work clothes, in Vietnam while travelling, they were cut to the shape I was while backpacking, i.e, skinny with no muscles, as opposed to how I am in Japan (skinny with big upper legs from cycling around everywhere).
So that's my trip in a nutshell. I'll try to flesh out a few of the points made in this post and maybe, if I don't get overwhelmed with work, I'll post about the beers and wines I had on vacation.
Today's my first day of work, but it won't be strenuous. It's just the contract-signing ceremony (your guess is as good as mine) and introductions to the schools. Tracey's a bit worried about how we're going to prepare the curriculum for the elementary schools, so hopefully we should get a better idea of how many classes we need to plan for and what grades they'll be, and we can get it done this week.
Great, it's now 7:30am. I've been writing this post on and off since 2:30am when I woke up. Jet lag's a bitch. Bollocks.