Monday, August 7, 2006

The final blog from Japan

It is sooo hot and humid. How hot you ask? So hot that I washed my hair last night and thought I could smell it molding as I slept. Yuck.

I woke up this morning (Monday) and thought, heck, I’m going to sleep in a little bit. I woke up again and heard nothing. Oh dear, I’ve slept so long everyone is downstairs. So, I get up and lo and behold it is only 5:30. I went ahead and went downstairs, and had a little breakfast before heading back upstairs in another attempt to sleep a little bit later. I got up at almost 7 after that.

By 9:30 I had bid my final farewell to the nasty ass bugs living in MaryBeth’s living room, thrown all my luggage in the back of her car, and we had arrived at the designated spot for all of the children on the base wishing to try out to be in the Misawa production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

By 11:30 armed with instructions from MaryBeth, I stood in the train station looking fetching. (That’s neither here nor there.) Brock had been left at the tryouts, but Grace accompanied MB in dropping me off at the station. He was filled with misgivings and at one point before tryouts had begun he had changed his mind and we were headed out the door early, but the boy is made of sterner stuff than that, so we returned. The 3 girls that appeared to be in charge did a good job. The kids formed a circle basically by age. They had to say their names and ages using expression. The first time acting happy, the second time mad etc. Then they had to sing row, row, row the boat (to see how well they enunciate maybe)?

At any rate, once at the train station, I took the elevator down to the tracks. This may not seem like a big deal, however my luggage is now twice as heavy since it is full of purchases. I thought I was going to die lugging it around Tokyo and then getting it to Misawa; this direction it is all elevators baby.

While waiting, I met Victoria. She was heading to the airport to pick up her kids who have been visiting their grandparents in the Philippines. So, she made sure I got on the right train (it’s all about who you know). So, I talk to her on the short ride to Hachinohe. While talking I got to stare at this photo. I wanted to share.

In Hachinohe we caught a different train. We both had reserved seats at opposite ends of the train. Sadly, I had a middle seat. Next to a young man that smelled quite badly. Well, ok, one of us smelled quite badly, and for my own sake, I’m hoping it was he. At any rate, luckily no one sat in the aisle seat so I was able to move over.

At some point, he left and then another lady arrived. Her name was Emiko. I’m not certain if she is an artist or she owns an art gallery or both. She was very nice. I’ll admit I smiled a lot and understand only half of what she said, but I admire her spunk for trying. I think she was hopeful that I spoke a little Japanese, but sadly for both of us, no such luck. I could have whipped out my speedy Japanese book, but “Hot isn’t it?” only gets you so far. And as I pointed out to MaryBeth, all that phrase does is entice people to think you actually speak Japanese because for the love of English why would you start a conversation with that phrase if that is all you have in your arsenal?

She even gave me a dessert. Let me tell you THAT made me nervous. First, it was wrapped in plastic so I didn’t actually know it was a dessert. Second, MB had warned me that Japanese desserts aren’t sweet as you might expect and third, everyone knows I’m no poker player. All I needed was to take a bite and have my gag reflex kick in. That would take community relations far. Luckily, it was quite tasty. So on the week of the dropping of the atomic bomb, I was able to keep Japanese American relations friendly. Go team.

I got up at one point to go to the bathroom. There are these girls that walk up and down the aisles hawking food. I asked them where the restroom was . . . thus ensued ten minutes of international chaos until I found a map and could point to what I was after. (Seriously how do you pantomime squatty potty. – I know what you are thinking but remember this is a nation of squatters. They squat just to rest so I’d actually have to get the peeing part across – not as easy as you might think!)

I arrived at Tokyo station and immediately began the hunt for the Norita Airport train and the elevators to get me to said train. I was successful in both. As I stood waiting, Victoria came across me again, said hi, and then had to move on to her train car.

After arriving at the airport I worked my way up several floors to the exit. I found with Holiday Inn bus with relative ease, and MaryBeth had worked her magic. My reservation was for Monday night (not Tuesday as those who have read the blog for a while might remember is the night I originally made it for.) The bellman had gotten my luggage, and I didn’t know how to get it back, so I just went up to the room to wait. As I waited I started flipping through channels. Almost all of them, you guessed it, in Japanese. There were 3 pay per view channels. The first was an American movie dubbed. I turned to the second as the luggage arrived, turning away from the door and back to the tv to discover it was PORN. Holy cow I almost died. I dove for the remote and changed the channel. I don’t even know what language that one was in. In decided CNN is a great channel, so it stayed there the rest of the night.

I called MaryBeth to reassure her that her dingdong friend did manage to make it to the hotel without any fiascos. I’d be more indignant, but she’s spent enough time with me to be able to imagine three or four ways I could

After that, I went down for dinner. I decided for my last night in Japan I would eat Chinese. (It was either that or hamburgers. What the heck one last hurrah.) I had seen something about a massage service (you know I can’t resist a good massage), so I asked the front desk and had one scheduled for 7pm. The longest option was for 40 minutes which I thought was a little short, but better than nothing.

Dinner was fine. I had spring rolls, and there was rice. I’m hoping the meat was cow, and the soup was some kind of noodle thing. That’s about all I know on that front.

The Japanese massage, my friends, is different from the American massage. The masseuse was a lady (thank heavens, although it didn’t matter because she just had me lay on the bed wearing what I traveled in.) She had me lay on my side. The massage began with her digging her thumbs into my back, I kid you not. After that she proceeded to dig her thumbs into my skull. Speaking of which, do we know if there are any cases on record of masseuses sticking their thumbs INTO the skull of clients?? Cause I think it was a possibility. Then, cause she wasn’t sure if she had caused any pain yet, you know that karate chop thing people do when they are giving massages to friends? Yeah, she did that to my HEAD. At some point she began digging her knee into my back before moving down to shove her elbow into my tailbone and glutuse mximus. Did I mention that I was paying for this?!?! It hurt like a mother. She wasn’t that dang big of a woman either. She had some power in those hands. Now at some point in here, I began thinking about the fact it was ONLY 40 minutes. Thank you God. Thank you God.

MaryBeth called at about 7:30am. I have to tell you it was mildly disconcerting. Who would be calling me?? Aha. MaryBeth to be sure I was up. My original plan included working out in the gym, but on second thought, nah. After checking on the price of breakfast at the hotel, I decided I would head on over to the airport.

I took a bath before going to bed. (Duh) This is the sign on the side of the tub. I am hoping you can read it. Is it really that hard to find an American who can translate Japanese? Must they just try to translate using a dictionary. Since I wanted the fire to stay inside, I went ahead and followed the precautions. Does anyone know what mind in the unit-bath mean?

I wasn't paying any attention last night, because the airport is literally around the corner from the hotel (I didn't realize they were so close) so I was at the airport before 9am. The AA lines didn't form until 9:15 so I decided to kill some time by having breakfast. Nothing compares to Mickey D's in the morning. Yum.

The line to check in although very short, took FOREVER. They were running special. For $600.00 I could upgrade to first class. I cannot begin to tell you how much it pained me not to do so. I yearn for first class. However, it was not fiscally responsible to do so. (Mom, Jon-David, Pam MacInnes I hope y'all are happy. You sat on my shoulder shaking your heads while I contemplated going for it.)

Once through that line I had to work my way through customs (yes, I did manage to choose the slowest line.) And then on to the gate. There are some weird smelling people in this world. That's all I have to say to that.

Luckily for $5.00 I could get an internet connection. So I am able to play on the computer and try to ignore the weird smells and hooligan children.

On a side note, it looks like almost as soon as I get off the plane I will have to head over to school to make sure some of my favorite administrators are not in the middle of screwing me through crappy scheduling. Welcome back.


  1. I'm so glad we got one last blog update!

    Good luck with the school situation. I'm amazed to realize that you're back today! I'll get real-time updates and actual dialogue! Hurray!

    Welcome back!

  2. We miss you already! Beetles send their love as do the smallest V's! I am in shock to not have an adult to talk to all day... you spoiled me while you were here!

    Much Love!


  3. Thank you one and all. Yes, Ann, I know which shoulder you would have been on!

    I miss y'all too. It's weird to not have a constant background noise of Brock and Grace. The Beetles can die, die, die.

    Near as I can tell it is going to take a while to get back on schedule. I'm reading to go to bed right now. Tell Nicole I brought her a Japanese Beetle. ; )

  4. What if I don't want her to have one of those nasty beetles?!?! Is that a picture of one of those. I hope you plan on keeping it for her!!!