Monday, January 27, 2003


Saturday was my first day officially working at Berlitz, along with Annie and Jacsy. We had to be in the Tachikawa school at 9am (ugh....getting up early on the weekend...). Unfortunately, we made a bad impression by arriving a few minutes late, but that was because we were having a hard time finding a place to park our bikes in Hachioji, since the place where we usually park our bikes was blocked off by cars. Anywayz, for my first class ever, they had me teaching a 60-some year old man, who seemed like a very nice man and made much effort even though speaking English doesn`t come easy to him. Then I talked to one of the teachers, Chico, who is sort of like a `mentor`, who basically guides us along as we begin teaching at Berlitz. All the teachers there seem really nice and seem like very interesting people. Anyways, after the lessons, I had a two hour break (I wish they had just pushed everything together so we could have gone back home sooner...), so I had lunch and then I walked around this large department store called `From` (I think). To be honest, the first day was a little overwhelming since it was my first lesson and I was a bit nervous, so as I walked around the department store, I was emotionally drained....and I felt physically tired. I felt unexplicably miserable. I kept thinking about home...it was strange. However, the dept. store was a very interesting store....it was awesome. They had a Claire`s on the first floor and the stuff was actually pretty inexpensive. Then on the second floor, there was a section that sold clubwear. But what really got me was the section of the store that sold Barbie collectibles! I was walking around feeling awful but the Barbie section cheered me right up. Not many of you know this but I used to LOVE playing with Barbies when I was little, and I still have a weakness for them. And at home...I actually have some collectible Barbies that I have not taken out of the box. Anyways, they actually sold Barbies and Barbie accessories from the 80s (and even earlier)! They even had the Malibu barbie that I had when I was a little girl! It was as if I had stepped back to my childhood. But the kicker was a book of Barbie collectibles up to the 80s...I recognized almost all of the Barbies from the 80s...among them a dark haired Barbie and a Ken both dressed in purple. It was one of the first Barbies and Kens that I ever had! My earliest memories include playing with that Barbie and Kent....And it ends up that they are the Donny and Marie Osmond edition of Ken and Barbie! Who knew??

Then, I was browsing their 100 yen store when my phone rang. Who should it be but Bill! We had a really nice conversation, one of the best in a while. We talked about SI, where he`s now taking classes, about my job, and about the Super Bowl. It was such a pleasant surprise to hear from him....it was so out of the blue, and coincidental because I had come across something in the department store that reminded me of him that I wanted to buy for his birthday. Afterwards I went back to Berlitz and after talking with Chico again, we went back to Hachioji. There, I met up with Tsveti and Tomi. We went to the foreign food market where we got some stuff, then we met up with Brian and Jojit at an Italian restaurant (actually, we had gone to that restaurant when a whole bunch of us went with Toshi to get our cell phones). We had a nice meal and then we decided to spend the rest of the night at karaoke. For the most part, I had a good time (except for getting tired and cranky towards the end of the night). I am proud to say that I had mostly glasses Ichigo Milk (strawberry milk) and Kaluha Milk (oh, and two glasses of Chu-Hi)....no getting drunk for me!
A modification of "Back In the USSR" (My apologies to the Beatles):

Back In the USA

Flew in from Narita Airport ASAP

Didn`t get to bed last night

From the way the paper bag was on my knee,

Man, I had a dreadful flight

I`m back in the USA!

You don`t know how lucky you are boys

I`m back in the USA!

Been away so long I hardly knew the place

Gee, it`s good to be back home

Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case

Honey disconnect the phone

I`m back in the USA!

You don`t know how lucky you are boys

I`m back in the USA!

The LA boys really knock me out

They leave the East behind

The New York boys make me sing and shout,

That Georgia`s always on my mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi mind!

Maybe I should save that song for when I actually DO go back home ;-)

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Yesterday we had an unpleasant experience...

Brian and Jojit recently joined a gym and apparently got a discount for signing up at the same time, so Tsveti and I figured we could do the same. We figured it would be a great opportunity to work out and get in shape in time for spring, so Tsveti, Tomi, and I went with Jojit and Brian to sign up for a membership. Everything was going well, they showed us around the gym, which has a machine room, a swimming pool, a sauna, a racquetball court....it seemed really nice. Well, we were filling out the paperwork, and the staff person was going over some rules and procedures, when he got to the rule of `People with tatoos are not allowed in the club. Please ask for explanation.` Well, we had known about the `no tatoos` rule because Brian and Jojit had told us about it. Now, Tsveti has a very small tatoo of a flower on the nape of her neck and you really can`t even see it unless she lifts up her hair. Anyways, trying to make sure that it`d be ok for her to enter the gym with such a small tatoo, she asked the staff person about it and showed it to him. At that point, the staff person became very hesitant, ran off to consult with someone, and came back, telling her that she was not allowed to join the club. From what I gather, in Japan, people with tatoos are associated with gangs, and this rule is a way to keep "bad people" away from their establishment, but Tsveti`s tatoo is rather small (people in Japanese gangs have very large tatoos that cover their chest and arms), and it is obvious that she is not in a gang. We tried to tell this to the staff person but insisted that she was not allowed to join the club. His explanation was `Japanese people don`t like tatoos. In foreign countries, it`s ok to have them, but here in Japan, we don`t like tatoos`. So Tomi and I decided that if she was not allowed to join, we weren`t going to join either, so we walked out. The man kept bowing and apologizing (in the Japanese style) but that did not make things any better. All of us, especially Tsveti, were very upset. Their refusal to let her enter was blatant discrimination and was an example of the Japanese way of strict and rigid adherence to rules. It was a dose of reality here in Japan.

At this point, all of us, including Brian and Jojit, decided to leave (not before Tomi wrote something to the manager of the gym--exactly what he wrote I don`t know...but I know they weren`t nice things). We decided we all needed cheering up so we went to the train station and headed to some place a few minutes away called Minami Ozawa, where apparently Jojit had gone before. This town has all these American stores, a movie theather, a Baskin Robbins, and an Outback Steakhouse, where we decided to have dinner....it was sooooooo good! The portions were big and greasy...It was like being back in the States! We had a Bloomin` Onion and Calamari (the best!) for appetizers, then I had an Alice Springs Chicken (with a side of french fries of course!) and a huge-ass cheesecake with caramel sauce. All the waiters spoke at least a little bit of English (one was a very fluent speaker). Even the menus were in English! It was in every sense a `break` from Japan, which was really needed after the bad experience earlier that evening. But it was pricey...the total bill came out to be the equivalent of more than 150 dollars. But a big part of that was because the guys ordered huge steaks...and meat is very expensive to begin with here in Japan. I think that they actually bring the steaks from the United States or from some other country where there`s plenty of livestock. Anywayz, that`s my schpiel on Outback Steakhouse....who would have known I would be so excited about it? But really, it`s just that I`ve been missing home so much lately. It`s not that I am miserable here....I am having such an interesting experience here and I have made such wonderful friends and in many ways I have gotten used to life in Japan...but I miss home too. I miss the familiar I miss my friends back home, I miss America. Is there something wrong with that? Is it ethnocentric of me to feel that way? Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday, and even though I am not an American football fan, I became very nostalgic thinking about last year`s Superbowl and how much fun it was...chicken wings, beer, the (awesome) halftime show, not to mention some action packed football.

But anyways, I suppose that I must be strong...my experiences in life have shown me that there are two paths that I can take: the familiar and the unknown. What`s safe and what scares you. It`s the unknown path that usually ends up being the best, it`s the path that makes you grow as a person and learn, and have the most interesting experiences. That`s why I liked reading The Hobbit so much. Bilbo, who is far away from home, yearns many times for his home in the Shire, but he knows in his heart that he must press on in his adventures, and he comes out a better person (or should I say, hobbit? ;-)) for it.

But I have decided that I do eventually want to go back to the States and go to grad school, of that I am pretty sure about. For once in my life, I have a good idea of what direction I want to take in my life. Who knows what will come out of it, but we shall see....

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?