The bloggings of an Upstate NY-born Tokyoite. Now with 20% more verbosity!

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Pit stop / My day off offhand.

It's been about 6 weeks since I first landed here in Japanland. Time feels at this point to be completely irrelevant, however. I have a routine, I am into the swing of things, I have furniture and all the creature comforts in my apartment. I lucked out, and unlike many people who end up with terrible, roach-infested, underwhelmingly less-than-satisfactory living situations, mine turned out to be fantastic. I will most likely stay here until a pressing need of one kind or another forces me to move - I am a pretty stagnant person, after all.

As I become more comfortable over here, everything seems that much more distant over there. I miss the various pleasures of home which need not be recounted, but in more of a wishful way than a needful one. I did have a dream last night that involved the thruway tollbooths on 787 into Albany, but that's about the extent of my current nostalgia. I won't stop missing my family and friends, but it's definitely bearable.

And without me, believe it or not, life goes on. Three people I have known for years are getting married this fall. One of them is actually my age too, and I never pinned him as the type to settle down. But people change, as do priorities. Am I happy with my current agenda of living life to the fullest and taking advantage of my current location? Mostly, yea. I get emo from time to time, but quickly remind myself that girls are a distraction, they come with needs and impose, and they are quite frankly trouble (no offense ladies). So I'm not actively looking for anyone. I figure that when I come across someone who truly captivates me, I will know it. Until then it's bachelordom for me, as it has been for what must be 2+ years now. This time in my life has given me ample opportunities to flesh out my career and my goals, and also to "find myself," silly as that part may sound.

Till death do they Shred
(Congratulations to Scott and Lindsey)

So this is really a kind of intermediary post to let you all know where I'm at. It's really just a bout of useless philosophy (and is there any other kind?) but it'll be helpful for me to look back on in the future, and maybe interesting to any one of the 30 people who check out this page on average. Seriously, thanks guys, you make it seem like I'm not just talking to myself, and I do have a habit of doing that quite a lot.


"We need to talk just means we have nothing to fight for"
- Blacklisted.

---

Today, I ate a bunch of thai food with my neighbor Nick, who turned out to be an older punker from California who knows D.R.I. and Sucidial Tendencies and all that. Really, the correlation between hardcore and English Teaching is just staggering. A few years back in Albany, I knew a kid who got the stuffing knocked out of him at a show once for no apparent reason by a mean-looking guy in a crew jacket. It later turned out this guy taught elementary school kids in New Jersey (he also profusely apologized for said incident). While I'm not that violent, sadistic or psychotic, and that is quite the extreme case, I have seen that the love of music and the love of teaching are nearly symmetrical in many people. I just happen to be one of them.

Back on point here, I met Nick's girlfriend Yuko, a nice girl with a good vernacular, and we talked and shared food and drank a few beers and it was a good time. I was supposed to go out with some fellow teachers but just couldn't bring myself to move much after all that rich food, and conked out for about half an hour around 7. It's been raining for the past 36 hours, and I need nor want no more part in it.

Part of the reason I was so tired is that as of today I am officially a member of the Japanese National Health Insurance plan, which was surprisingly more painless to enter than I had anticipated...even if I had to buy a new umbrella from the dollar store (some jerk goinked mine, 3rd umbrella down since I got here) and spend about $9 in trainfare. Now, if anything like an accident happens, I'm covered. Plus, the premium is only about $110 for the first year due to my prior non-working status as a college student. It will unfortunately jump out to double that per month starting next August, but hey, might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

I also talked briefly with my friend Kevin from back in NY today, and discussed travel plans. He is coming to visit for a few weeks around the New Years break, and I am very excited about this. I believe that he will enjoy Japan immensely, and find that it is worth the ridiculously high price of his plane ticket. Let this also serve as a message to anyone who made mention of visiting me in the future: Get your asses out here, you only live once!

"No beginning, no end AGAIN AND AGAIN" - Ringworm


P.S. Just no CD of the week this week, I don't feel like it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The little chitlins

So today is Sunday, and usually this is first day of the weekend for me. However, I opted to work overtime for the sake of making some extra dough. If I do this twice a month I can increase my paycheck by $300+, so I plan to if and when possible. It was in a place called Koshigaya Laketown, and what I didn't know was that this school was cleverly hidden inside of the biggest mall I've ever seen in my life.

Four stories, easily over 100 stores, nearly a mile long, and by the afternoon it was packed with families and what must be the usual Sunday hubbub. What I found out later (and had sort of already guessed) was that this mall was nearly brand new, which probably supplemented said hubbub quite significantly. This was another time I wished that I had brought my camera, so sorry there aren't any pictures. There was a huge guitar shop, a burger king that I glutted at after work, and some ridiculous Halloween decorum, most noticeably a giant jack-o-lantern-centered playground-area with nearly 50 kids hurricaning around in noisy chaos.

This brings us to today's topic, which is kids. It's in my contract and I was trained to teach 'em, but after 3 weeks of anxiously waiting, I had my first close encounter today. It started off innocently enough: After finding the school, I made friendly with the staff and found out it was completely dead yesterday. There was another English School within eyeshot that had the popular children's anime character Doraemon as its theme, so we were completely beaten. Oh, and if you don't know, Doraemon is like what Garfield was to us Americans in the late 80s, except he's been around forever and will never go away:

A time-traveling cat who is really a robot from the future, friend of weak and bullied children everywhere.

So much to my chagrin, about 2 hours into my shift some parents came with their kid to sign up for lessons. The School Director asked me to come and greet the kid (I had been getting paid to sit on my ass for the most part up until this point) and I did so. She was a cute little 4 year old girl with glasses who already knew her ABCs, even though she kept mixing up N and W. I messed around with the styrafoam letters and managed to entertain the kid well enough. I even brought out a Dr. Suess book to which she just said "NO." But other than that she was really pleasant and afterward the staff (3 women) all told me how great I was with the kid and that they wanted someone like me at the school doing kid's classes.

I was feeling pretty good at that point. I mean, I am confident enough about being goofy and smiling and friendly and all that; What scares me is all the other dynamics that go into working with and teaching children: dealing with misbehavior, discipline. keeping them focused, getting them not to speak Japanese, not making them cry or letting them hurt themselves, etc. etc.. And from what I've heard from other teachers, the little girls are usually good and have a healthy desire to learn. The boys however like to throw things and bring about utter flotsam and jetsam.

This brings me to the next part of todays J-kid Adventure. About and hour after that, I saw a mother with two kids in a shopping cart and one little one right outside the school, with one of the staff talking to her. I waved a few times to the one daughter and eventually they were drawn in. What this turned into however was the three siblings (one a 3-4 year old boy, one 5-6 year old girl, one 7-8 year old girl) running around, picking up markers and drawing stuff - granted it was on the board and they would erase it after the fact which seemed downright strange to me. So, as the staff talked to the mom it was my duty to "entertain the kids." I thought it would be good practice and it was, even if this lady was basically just dumping her triple load of trouble while she had the chance.

So I led them into the kids room, and they immediately grabbed the hula hoops. After settling them down a hair I started doing some pseudo-lesson stuff, like having them recite the alphabet. After that it all fell apart into babysitting chaos. The oldest girl knew a lot but was still kinda hyper. She was asking me "Do you like apples? Do you like pink? Do you like chocolate?" etc. etc., and she was pretty good and all, but left the other two yelling "mite! mite!" (look at me! look at me!) and running around and stuff. A few times I got the girls speaking english, but the little guy was babbling Japanese no matter how many times I shrugged and pretended not to understand. It's weird, trying to pretend I don't understand what they say in Japanese. Not onlt that, it should be obvious when I'm answering a question in English that the kid asks in Japanese that I understand it... but I guess they aren't old enough to put 2 and 2 together.

Anyway, we "played" for what must have been near 45 minutes. I imagine that with actual lesson structure, set rules about not speaking Japanese, non-siblings and set age groups the kids lessons should be a little easier to handle, but only a little. I was really goofy and silly from the onset, and as an older teacher told me the other day that is "a common mistake amongst new teachers." You apparently have to be somewhat strict at first and lay the ground rules before you can all have fun, otherwise after a few lessons the kids will run amuck. I think I'm going to take this advice, hard as it will be for me to execute. My first kid lesson is this upcoming friday, 6-9 year olds. X_X

So after they finished wrecking shop and I decided I'd had enough, I got the kids to clean up somewhat, (ideally you are supposed to get them in the habit of picking everything up after class so you can actually take your 10 minute break) and led them back to Mom. The Boss-lady thanked me for "taking care of the kids," a.k.a. babysitting them. Again, I look forward to having rules, goals, some kind of structure, I think it could go pretty far. All we really do is introduce simple words and grammar and play games anyway, so I'm sure it'll be fine. Just waiting to see if I get little angels or hellraisers....

In other news, I played a guitar at the guitarshop after work. It felt awesome, and I miss it. I look forward to receiving my guitar in the mail some time next month. And IAN flies on his way back home in 2 weeks! w00t.

On a sidenote, I've been playing a lot of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Tales of Symponia and Final Fantasy 4. The inner dork in my is quite at peace, and it's amazing what I can do with my free time now that I don't have homework... Although I do try to still study Japanese everyday.

I might go out with some fellow teachers tomorrow to eat drink and be merry, might hibernate, I'm not sure yet. But as a reward for reading all of this, here is last night's dinner:

This deserves an MMNOMMNOMM I believe.


"Do not resist, for it is your destiny. Have we not all simply become the Children of Technology?" - Carnivore

"I realize it's no one's fault
Ultimately I'm still a stranger
Even when I dream the same dream swarming in the light
I just feel uncomfortable

A love song that disappeared in the wind
A poster that wouldn't stick to the wall
I hold the present I failed to give in my arms

I'm still watching my advancing toes
I don't worry about the rain or the puddles
I'll soon be dry
Until the day that I stop
Like an adventurer, my foot
I'll keep following the roadless road

I stole the passport I yearned for
Through the opening of the door, but it's already useless
Even when I dream of defeating the city and laying down
I only give an empty laugh

A fandango that speeds the night
A rooster that wants to fly
I vow to reunite with the eskimo who awoke in the desert

I can still see my eternal rival
His escaping back, ten steps ahead of me
Looks a lot like me
Like a challenger who will never give up
I'll always be running, my foot
I click my heels

Wherever I am, I'm out of place
A lostman who talks to himself more and more
Even though I'm not invited, I memorize my words of refusal

I'm still watching my advancing toes
I don't worry about the rain or the puddles
I'll soon be dry
Until the day that I stop
Like an adventurer, my foot
I'll keep following the roadless road
I click my heels - let's go" - The Pillows (translated into English)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Why I don't talk much about Politics

The situation in America right now is, to put it lightly, a complete and utter clusterfuck. People are scrambling to get some kind of footing on their economical future, and even my own parents wonder about the validity of Social Security and retirement. Just because I currently live in another country, have I completely forgotten my homeland and their woes?

No. In actuality, just like I have done for the last few years, I keep up with politics both local and foreign. I like to have some vague understanding of what is going on in the world, even if it doesn't appear to directly effect me. I think Bush and his party are war criminals, more unpatriotic than those they point their fingers at, but I don't feel the need to point this out on a regular basis, or shout with the masses. In fact, I don't believe in the validity of our current democratic system. I'm not casting an absentee ballot, but I can guarantee you that New York will be a blue state just like the last major election without my assistance. For further understanding of this vantage point of voting apathy, please watch hours of George Carlin on youtube.

So, to get to the point, I don't talk about politics much because I don't think anyone cares enough about my particular opinion to bother with it; My voice isn't changing anything, at least not directly. If I can maybe share my life experiences then that's great; However, that is in a realm completely outside of politics, regardless of the fact that these words indirectly reliant on politically influenced factors, such as life stability. Translation: If there were bombs dropping and riots in the streets, I wouldn't be writing this right now, I'd be ducking for shelter. I don't have any words of wisdom that will save humanity, and I'm just fine with that. Better yet, I'd rather keep it a personal interest, wanting to be knowledgable in world events and all that, than have it arbitrarily stain a blog which I think has been pretty successful in achieving what I have wanted it to thus far.

...but since this all begs the question, I'll lay it down simply: I think that Obama will win the election, but whether or not his rhetoric will be anything like his actions in office remains to be seen. I hope for the sake of my loved ones and my country that he can improve things. I also believe that we can look to history as a model for the future, so much as the Roman Empire expanded until it was unable to sustain itself, so shall the U.S. in time. I believe this will be a gradual process of losing power and getting into the unfamiliar territory of playing second fiddle to China, India, Russia and other major powers. I say it's long overdue, let 'em have the world spotlight. Hell, we'll still have Hollywood and our illustrious, never-ending supply of permiscuous celebrities to brag about.

The bottom line here is that I care about the issues, but no one else cares whether or not I care.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The best stuff is free stuff

So last night after work, I came home with the intention of meeting my neighbor James. He had informed me that due to an unfortunate series of events, he would have to move back to England after only having lived in Japan for a month. He had however bought a lot of stuff with the intention of living here longer, and even though I offered to pay him, he gave me a bunch of stuff for free. Thank you James! You have made my apartment so much cooler. Here's some of the swag:

-A boxed 70s-style reading lamp

-A 4-level kitchen tray on wheels

-an automatic water-boiling machine

-a cool glass table

-A wooden floor-mat

-Q-tips, coat-hangers, orange-smelling porirappu (plastic wrap), soy sauce, book-stands and much, much more.

My upstairs neighbor Dayn also got a sweet table out of it. All in all it was like Christmas at 2AM in September; My apartment already looks so much cooler and more like home. I will put up a video-tour in the near future per Chris's suggestion, to show you all how I sustain from day to day.

And if it makes any sense at all, I must apologize to May (and the general public) for any confusion my last entry may have produced regarding my opinions of Japan and America. I believe it may have been interpretted as my saying that America's sociological viewpoint is superior to Japan. Allow me to clarify: America has in the last 40 years tried to embrace an unrealistic model of absolute equality, which may in my opinion be producing a complete backlash to such inane, utopian ideals. On the other hand, Japan's tendency towards a collectivistic ethnocentricity is not only more realistic, but quite possibly more practical.

So what do I really think, in plain English? I think people are people, and will discriminate others for whatever reasons they find, regardless of the reasons why. I am just as guilty as everyone else, and although I feel I have always made a good effort to not judge a book by its cover, be that cover ones' ethnicity, clothing-choice or manner of speaking, I am only just as human as anyone else as well. I loved to make fun of "Bro-dudes" (mostly from Long Island) back home who rocked stupid sunglasses, upside-down, backwards sun visors and tanktops. So there's an example of my own unfounded discrimination for ya: Bro-bashing is my weakness....gosh, I almost miss it.

But May, what really matters here is that you have a really cute dog. I'm jealous. I miss not only my dog Terry who passed a few years back (an adorable keeshound, looked something like this) but also my two cats whom I loved dearly, Sylvester and Little Pete III, esquire. Here are a few mandatory pictures:

First, there was Lil' Pete, who I picked up from a home in Cohoes with too many kittens. He scrambled around my car, yowling the whole 15-minute drive, and hid under the couch for the first few days. This is a photo, affectionately dubbed: "Da' Early Years"

ALL GROWED UP. I R SERIOUS NOW.

Then came the 2-year-old but incredibly friendly Sylvester, the only cat I've ever known who would lick you. Here they are, keepin the house on lockdown. And there's the Pizzawagon!

Work hard, nap hard.


On an unrelated note, I just made some Udon noodles with a curry-based sauce, and they were declious. Last night I had incredibly spicy curry with Broccoli and, um, "paid dearly" for it. Hopefully tomorrow won't stink so much.

Should-be-daily praise of Japanese technology: I set my coffee maker this morning and ran downstairs to take a shower. Upon returning, I saw that I had left the pot in the sink! If I had done this back home (which I have a few times) there would have been a huge mess. However, this coffee maker, despite being the $30 cheap model, doesn't start unless there is a pot on the burner!

Maybe I'll just stay here forever. :)


"I just got a message that said:'Yeah, hell has frozen over,' I got a phone call from the Lord saying: 'Hey, boy, get a sweater right now'" - Modest Mouse

"Motto without a cause, stripped of all my pride, the same pride that won't let me lay down and die" - Blacklisted

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

First times

UFO catchers are like crane machines in the states, except you can actually ask the staff to move things in the machines around for you. Really.

For reasons that should be obvious, the number of first time experiences has increased exponentially for me in the last month. Here are some examples:

-Seeing people hold umbrellas or text on a cell phone while riding a bicycle. It's very common, and even though it's technically against the law, no one enforces it.

-Eating takoyaki, or fried octopus balls. Of course I've tried a lot of new food, but this is one of my favorites.

-Seeing people fall asleep on the trains. Not only is this common, but it's also not unusual for people to close their eyes and pretend to sleep to avoid giving up their seats to anyone else who may have first priority, such as the elderly, pregnant mothers, etc.

-Pulling an all-nighter at a rap club

-First Japanese hardcore show.

-Falling asleep on a train.

How did that last one happen, you may wonder? If you do not know me already, then I will inform you: I am almost never able to fall asleep in cars, trains, planes, or anywhere like that, so it takes extreme circumstances. Here is a look at the last few days and how it unfolded.

On Friday, I got up at 7:30am. This is really, really early for me, considering my normal working schedule is 3:30-9:30pm. I took a train to Kawasaki for a one-shot job. Now Kawasaki is not to be confused with Kawazaki the motorcycle distributor, who also happen to have a dealership half a mile from my apartment. Too bad I don't ride motorcycles.

Anyway.

When me and Dayn finally got to this location (we had both taken the job), about an hour and a half has past, including a mistake we made of getting on the wrong train. We met up with 9 other Americans who were all, you guessed it, English teachers. Popular occupation around here. We were given green tea and a rundown, and basically we all had to sit in front of computers with headphones on and rate individual snippets of audio for a GPS tracking system using synthesized voices. It was repetitive and rather dull, but probably the easiest $120 I ever made. Afterward, I went with a fellow from the group to get some coffee, and hung around in a Dotour Cafe place for about 2 hours, killing time before the job. It was a long day, but since they didn't really have a place for me to teach at, I got paid to hang out at a school in Kawasaki, talk to some people, play my DS for a few hours and read a book. It'll be a shame once my schedule becomes regulated in a few weeks and I actually have to work all the time!

I spotted one of the staff members looking at a dopplar map on the computer and inquired about it.

"Oh, there may be a typhoon tomorrow, and if the trains get shut down so do the schools."

A typhoon!?!? I explained to them (and several students the next day when it turned out to miss us entirely) that the most extreme weather I'd ever bore witness to was snowstorms! Now I have earthquakes, typhoons and tsunamis to deal with. OMFG!

Missed it by that much!

But anyway, Friday was a really long day. I sat on the long return trip like a zombie low on manflesh. However, that night when I got home I heard back from a student who had offered to get me into a hip hop club he DJed at for free - I subsequently sent out messages to several of my friends who wanted ins. "Cool," I thought, "now I have something to do on Saturday!"

Now the next day I worked, the highlight of which was my first class bigger than 4: It was in fact twice the normal length (80 minutes) and part of an intensive program for 10 students! To me this was exciting, and breaking out of the realm of little-room-private-lessons really made me feel like I was a teacher. I could control a classroom, and guide them and make them laugh and tell them what to do. Kind of a power trip too, I suppose.

I also made a new friend which is always nice, a fellow teacher. Us dorks have a tendency to sense each others' presence, I think. We got dinner and had what I thought was an interesting conversation. The point that sticks in my mind was how it's harder for women to teach English than men.

"But you have such loose dressing restrictions compared to us monkeys in our suits and ties!" I proclaimed.

"Yes, but I can't adopt your strategy of just being goofy and funny to explain a point or entertain a class." She continued, "if I present myself that way then the class won't take me seriously, although they will with a man."

"Well, I do excel at being goofy, so you have a point there... And I don't ever have to birth children."

After all this, I had a few hours of downtime before going out to said club. It opened at 11, I showed up at 12, and the trains stopped running at 12:45 and wouldn't run again until 4:50. Also, all my friends who said they would come bailed for one reason or another, which wasn't too surprising as it was pretty last minute, and an all-nighter is a serious commitment. But it was Saturday night, and I just didn't feel like just staying in again.

Arriving at the place I had some trouble getting in. I had to actually break out the aforementioned students' business card to get in, so I'm not sure how easy it would have been for me and 4 friends. The original entrance fee would have been $30 too!

The place was impressive enough, 3 floors and two different stages of music (the latter I found on accident later that night). There was loud music and a lot of people, and I talked around a bit but mostly just soaked it all in. It was like being inside a music video or something, as more and more ridiculously hot girls and ridiculously dressed guys walked in. High heels, nike pumps, huge sunglasses, tilted caps, short dresses, lots of NYC and California paraphonilia. I talked with some dudes about KRS-One and I busted a move or two and drank a decent amount, pacing myself for the long night. It was good for about 2 hours, then I started getting bored.

There was no re-entry, so when I left at 3am I was out of there for good. I hung out with some skaters, had some other dudes hand me a bottle of liquor, and killed time wandering around until I finally stopped at a little shop to get a bite around 4:30, and met a foreigner from Belgium who had just arrived 3 days earlier.

One hour later, I was on my final train back home and got way too comfortable, making the huge mistake of lying down across the seats, and I slept about 3 stops past my station before I realized my mistake. No harm no foul, I got off and switched to the train on the opposite side and of course it didn't effect my fare or anything. Love that train system.

The sun being out on my little slice of Japan town that day, I felt a strange culmination of emotions. It was Sunday morning, and probably the quietest I've ever seen the place. When I heard a couple walk by me and say something to the effect of: "Where is that foreigner off to at this time of morning?" I felt a twinge in my gut somewhere. I thought to myself: "It's like I go to all this trouble to try and learn your language, your culture, your way of life, but no matter what I'm still immensely different from you? So different that I'm just that foreigner? You'd never talk like that about someone who you knew could understand what you were saying." I'm sure it was mostly just coming off of that bender and the time of day and everything, but there was something to that complaint. No matter how well one may integrate his or herself into Japanese society, they will never be Japanese. You can never be considered to be one with the culture, and even the most elite at this practice are still looked at as outsiders by the majority of Japanese. It is such a stark contrast to the American idea that "everyone is equal," and "gender and ethnicity don't matter," to see anyone and everyone singled out for their, well, ethnicity or gender. Hell, Koreans, Chinese and Filipinos probably get it the worst. But it's a patriarchal, ethnocentric society here, and as Ian said to me the next day when I vented this point: "But that's just how they are." I'll just have to get used to it.

Sunday night I went to the Chinese place mentioned in my last post, and afterward raged for a bit with two new but good friends of mine who are fellow teachers from my training group. One is from Australia, the other from Minnesota, and they both excel in drinking far too much. Highlights of the night included feeding chicken to a stray cat, Smash Bros. and almost raging too hard and busting the ticket gates after these guys left my place. Classic.

Monday I bought a dresser which was much needed, and Tuesday I went to my first Japanese hardcore show! This is not to be confused with death metal or grind shows, so let me explain a bit for the uneducated: At hardcore shows people dance more, stagedive more - think of it as a little more energetic and youthful, and less headbanging and getting so drunk you can't see. In fact, most of the bands were Straight Edge, and the bartender looked very bored all night. I didn't even smell like smoke afterwords, just sheer manstink because the air conditioners there were busted!

Here are way too many pictures, enjoy!

Endzweck. A decent band that kind of reminded me a little of Shai Hulud, young and with a lot of energy.





As We Let Go
. Biggest surprise of the night, these guys were great, I recommend you listen.









Loyal to the Grave
. They've done a split with Winds of Plague and xAFBx, and their guitarist does an infamous distro. I talked to them after the show about Stigmata, One King Down and Strife. Really cool dudes, awesome beatdown hardcore. The singer had a unique tactic of getting people to move that I've never seen before: he would wipe the sweat off his face and flick it at them! Ew. Or he would just get on the floor and start running into people. Solid band.






Shipwreck A.D. Not much I need to say here, dudes are on Deathwish Records and wicked cool, I hung out with them for a bit outside the show, explaining some stuff like Yakuza (Japanese mob), law and legal prostitution in Japan. I saw them about 2 months ago in Albany and they were even better last night.










Like I said earlier, the AC was busted in the venue and it was exactly 425246246 degrees, so I skipped out on No Choice. I'm sure they were good, but breathing is important too.

Have Heart. These guys were awesome, and the crowd went completely apeshit, it was like seeing Bane or something (long-winded in between speeches included). Overall very impressive, stagedives were maximum, and I caught a flying headbutt from some dude! Everyone had a good time.













(Bane dance)




Beautiful crowd.


I got to make some new friends at the show, and the energy and attitude was all really positive, and a real breath of fresh air from the hubris-infested state of things back home. No one was there to play toughguy, everyone was just there to have a good time, and that's how it always should be. Another great first time experience for me.

I spend far too much time on this blog. Time to work!


"You were layin' on the carpet like your satin in a coffin, he said: "do you believe what you're sayin?" "Yea right now, but not that often!" - Modest Mouse

"You're a big boy now, you're all grown up from the silver spoon to the golden cup" - Pulling Teeth

"There's more to life than the boy in the mirror" - Have Heart