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


Sunday, December 21, 2008

100 blogs later.

There is so much to say but so few words to say it with. I have everything to tell the internet but nothing really at all to say. Some things are just incommunicable through written language, and I cite my recent experiences as one of those many things... I will however do my best to shed some light on the scene, reveal a fraction of the details that engulf me in this massive and overwhelming madhouse of Concrete and Money that they call Tokyo.

Current events.

I've been overcoming a bout of some kind of sickness lately, with all sorts of icky implications like headaches, lack of energy, diarrhea etc. - I stocked up on vitamin C today and am trying very hard to get myself better in the next couple days. Kevin is arriving in what I thought was 2 days but is actually TOMORROW upon me writing this post and double-checking the date. Considering the man will be crashing on my floor, I really have to clean up the joint and make the most of the room.

Thence comes the other reason that I wanteth to invigorate mine spirits! Me and Kevin are leaving for Hiroshima on a night bus Christmas night, duration 12 hours. Need I reiterate that this is incidentally my first Christmas away from home? It'll be good to have some company though, especially an old friend at that. Mine and Kevin's history is an interesting one, possibly a touch too much personal detail for public blogging, but I'll go ahead and bite the bullet and say a few things:

I remember specifically that we did not get along well when we were growing up. Our families knew each other and I recall an occasion or two where I was calling my mom from Kevin's place because I wanted to leave. I was an anti-social kid (in a way I still am) so I'm not blaming this one on Kevin. It goes without saying then that we have both changed drastically since we were, uh 8.

I believe me and Kevin first ran into each other again at the local YMCA. We would often get into conversations about various philosophical subjects, of which we're both highly interested. I ended up hanging out with his sister Naomi a bit as well, me and Kev traveling down to NYC to hang out with her back in August (That post doesn't feel like that long ago, but it seems a world away, if that makes any sense). Anyhow we began to party and hang out a bit, often perusing several of the Capital Region's local Indian lunch buffets. Kevin is a Medical student and looking to become a Doctor. He has talked about doing volunteer work in 3rd world countries, which I think is an overly lofty and virtuous goal, but quite admirable nonetheless. I really do wish him the best in his efforts. Kevin's sister Kara is also an old friend from my High School days, and is currently the mother of a beautiful little baby girl.

EDIT: While I was in the middle of writing this some interesting and, er, unexpected things happened. I just called Kevin to verify his flight information. Turns out I woke him up 45 minutes before he was supposed to be taking off! Long story short after a few confused communications back and forth is that he made the all too easy mistake of going out the night before, and slept through his alarm. This is pretty out of character for the guy since he is usually 100% on the ball, but regardless it's pretty hilarious I woke him up (and I'm sure he'll think so too in hindsight).

He unfortunately missed his connection as a result, and will be coming in 2 days later (and with several extra hours of layovers and such) while I am at work! My last day of work for the year is December 24th (I'm currently writing this on the 23rd, which is the Emperor's Birthday hence a national holiday), the same day Kevin is coming in. What this means is that the poor guy is going to be squatting somewhere in Shinjuku station, jetlagged and most likely bedraggled while I am at work, until around 10:30. Our overnight bus for Hiroshima leaves the next night too!!! I only hope everything goes smoothly this time around, as there have been a few big snowstorms rolling through the States this week.

Did I mention I sort of miss the snow, but mostly don't? It hit 69 degrees on Sunday, completely absurd! While my Mother and Father are dealing with 14 inches of snow and below freezing temperatures, here I am experiencing fall weather. It just doesn't feel like Winter here, so strange. Temperatures are dropping back down to the 40s this week though, and it should be colder where I'm going, so I bought a nice jacket!

Let's talk band stuff.

Things with F.I.D. are going quite spectacular. They are fun to play with, I'm getting into playing their songs, but most of all they are cool people, and finding people you can actually get along with and play music with is really half the battle. The whole language barrier thing is pretty hard, and considering that my Japanese is at if not below Kana's (bassist) English, we usually just talk through Makiko, who is 100% bilingual. I thanked her today for going through what must be a bit of a headache, translating things back and forth.

Nothing else in the world delivers quite like that immaculate feeling, the release of pent-up hostility through an instrument. One feels a connection with the other musicians. I remember a former band-mate of mine saying something along the lines of: "When you begin to use music as an outlet for your emotions, it becomes such an empowerment, such a drug." I'd say that's about right. And even better than playing someone else's compositions (even though I'll admit they're good) is getting to mess around with my own, which we did today too. It's one of the few things that fills me with genuine pride, possibly the only thing to have such an effect besides teaching. I can't wait to play some shows here in Grind country!

Interlude: My Christmas in Japan

Hooked on Phonetics

Snaring the attention of my Junior High class is much like trying to catch a shark with a toothpick. While blindfolded and a quadriplegic. Although a seemingly futile effort, I do my best to get the few (maybe 2, sometimes 3 out of 10) students who do listen to me to learn something. What is supposed to be a group activity of Pictionary - one of my favorite in-class activities - is reduced to only me, showing off my horrendously amusing and base drawing skills. I still have fun with it. Anyway, the point of this story is that 1 of the 2 boys in the class starting singing some Beatles song, and transitioned into "When You Wish Upon a Star" while I was drawing a picture to elicit Karaoke. I promptly invited him to come up and show the class, but he declined for some reason.

I had a class with a high school English teacher the other day - yes, I taught a man twice my age who has been teaching for easily 30x as long as me, because many Japanese teachers of the English language are far from fluent in the proper conversational nomenclature and grammatical points. His English was impressive but he still made some very common Japanese mistakes. We discussed problems with the Public Educational system in both our countries. When I asked how he felt about working with ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers, what I would have been if I had gotten accepted into JET last year) he laughed and responded with: "I feel sorry for them. They are supposed to teach conversation, but they have 50 minutes to work with 40 students." Reflecting on this, perhaps working for a private company isn't such a bad thing after all? In fact I like most aspects of my employment and even enjoy it most of the time, due to the fact that I have enjoyable conversations, meet interesting people from various walks of life and even can see a clear evidence of students improving due to my own suggested ideas, memory devices and corrections. And even better, in a good class, there are a lot of laughs.

It had been a while since I had seen one particular Japanese English teacher who works for my company, and she is always very outspoken.

"Hello!~" She said from across the room.

"Hi!" I responded.

"You're looking very fine!"

I repress a laugh. "Thanks, you too!"

A non-native English speaker may fail fo find the humor in that discussion, but for the rest of us it's blatantly obvious. The usage of fine in regard to looks, especially saying "very fine," sounds like calling someone "handsome" or even "sexy." I explained this bit to my school boss and she laughed too, saying that Japanese are taught that fine and nice are perfect synonyms. Which, I suppose, they are on paper. Just another reason why, if anyone is still failing to grasp it, there is a huge market for native English speakers like me who want to teach proper conversational skills to Asians. I say Asians because I've had several Korean and Chinese students - even a Malaysian. Their languages, the sounds made in speech, the grammar, they just don't lend themselves well to the English language. But that's what makes it all so interesting.

Where I am, where I'm going

I don't think I can answer either of those properly. My living situation is pretty good. I'd sort of like a girlfriend. It's been over 2 years since I broke up with my last one, and while I've learned a lot from single life (and naturally it hasn't just been a 2 year dry spell, ahem) I would like someone with whom I could share my experiences. It seems that when I get tired of the old ladies pushing me onto trains, or the masses so saturated with people that full strides become impossible and brushing, bumping and knocking into strangers becomes an inevitability, all I can think is how much I want to get away from the throngs and tuck away in my own little world in my tiny apartment. Perhaps this is a misconstrued idea and I'd just like someone with whom I could to share the madness?

We shall see, time will tell, and other cliche' phrases like that. As you may gather I'm getting a little bogged down by this city life, it being my first time on my own and my first time in a city, and with the holidays things have become even crazier in Tokyo if that's possible. There are night-time illuminations, employees wearing santa hats and even live musicians at the local department store (see above picture). As for these frustrations I feel like some time outside of Tokyo is just what I need to recapture that spark, that magic and wonderment that was oozing out of everything when I first arrived. Granted it will be mighty busy and bustling where I'm going too (Hiroshima, Nara, especially Kyoto), but I'll have a travel companion and be on vacation seeing new sites, so it should be cool. Atomic bomb museums, famous temples, traditonal foods, all these things and more are right around the corner.

As for the New Year, well, it's just another year. January 1st is just another day. So just like I've done since I got here, I'll keep living day by day and doing my best to fight the good fight and grind my way through a life in Japan. I'll carve my niche, have my good days and bad, make new friends and so on. A Learning experience, travels, call it whatever you want. I'm just living and my location happened to change to some place more interesting...with notably cheaper comic books.

Thanks to everyone for all your support, I'll see you next year!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Christmas in Japan!

I saw this video and couldn't resist posting it here, funny stuff!

"I won't be home for Christmas
I lost my job and the money to fly
It was considered rude when I spewed my food
On the boss at the bonenkai (year-end party)"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dreams within dreams within dreams

It is without question the result of me reading too much Lovecraft lately, and possibly eating some unusually sweet foods, but I had the most bizarre dreams last night. Naturally it's hard to piece together even though I've been thinking about it since I woke up, but a mere 10 minutes certainly seems to do a lot to extinguish the the memories of dreams. I'll piece it together as best I can.

Something about a bronze ball that said "Love is Cthulhu and Cthulhu is Love." Innocent enough? I had a new apartment in what I knew to be the second layer of my dream world, where I was continually trying to break through to the mysterious fifth. I had a safe underneath my bunk bed (bunk bed?!) which held some precious item underneath the protection of plastic clothespins. At 3am the sun was out fully and I was sitting under a highway bridge with my friend Gabe, explaining to him that about my mission and that this could be the third step. Then a giant mardi gras parade broke out on the streets above and I slipped from what must have been the third back to the second layer, back into my room with the bunk bed. I kept getting these physically written tickets for noise complaints at strangely inopportune times. The rest of the dream was a struggle to try and maintain the ground I had already broken, but the urge to urinate is the last thing I remember upon waking up. So yea, I'm completely nutso!

In other news I'm getting sent to what could be my favorite school for pseudo-sub duty today: Shiki. It's a little place and is awfully quiet but the staff are so pleasant and I always have fun hanging out there. I'm hoping to get put there next year on my new contract, keeping my fingers crossed! Oh and it's only 15 minutes and one train ride away, which is pretty convenient compared to my average commute.

Winter's coming! But I can't feel a thing, and it isn't because my toes are numb this time! Nope, the weather here is much milder than New York has ever been even in its most subdued of winter seasons; It was in the mid-60s for the better part of this week, now moving down to mid-50s. We've had a few nights hit around 40 last week, but even when winter does come in full effect here I doubt it will be a big deal for me, a well-seasoned polar bear.

This brings me to things I don't miss about home, and how about a shot from the latest Noreaster (North Eastern Storm) that tore up New England but apparently missed NY, even though I've heard reports of some less-than-desirable weather there too:

Ice storms.

To finish off this segment I need to recount a story about when I visited my friend Rich in February of this year, which sure seems like a long time ago now. I was on my way through the windy mountain roads to the Castle de Hartshorn, doing my usual 40mph or so since I knew all the roads by this time. The sun had just set, and it had been raining quite a bit. I likewise hadn't noticed that as the roads gradually wound their way up into the mountains, so too did the temperature just decrease enough to create some incredibly dangerous sheets of black ice (ice so thin it can scantly be seen on pavement). I noticed the hard way, by almost losing control and skidding off the road around a fairly sharp corner! Lucky for me I slid my backwheel into an easy area to pull out of, but with at least 5 miles left to go it was not looking particularly good for me. I figured that continuing to go up was however safter than trying to turn around and go down in this kind of situation, so I continued with extreme caution. As I trucked along slowly the ice got thicker - the thickest in fact that I have probably ever seen on pavement in my entire life, looked like nearly an inch solid. Cars sat idling at the ends of their driveways, waiting for some kind of plow truck to salt the way. I pulled to the side for a minute to try and call Rich, but he didn't answer. Or maybe I didn't have a signal, I don't remember. After a minute I saw a pickup truck heading in the same direction as me, and decided it best to follow at a distance. If I went off the road at least someone would see it!

As our path wove on we continued to cruise at about 5-10mph, the ice not heeding in the slightest, and it seemed strange that this truck was heading in exactly the same direction as me, since Castle de Hartshorn is located in kind of an obscure area even for these mountain roads. Feeling safe enough I tried calling Rich quickly again, and upon his answering I started explaining my situation when he said: "You mean that hasn't been you behind us for the last 20 minutes?"

"Swallow all the planets, the profits of doom! Quarterly projections, the prophets of doom! A colleague, rabbi and a bishop walk into a bar, one says to the other: 'hey now brother we haven't gotten very far'" - Clutch

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Adventures in Englishing

Student: "Yesterday, I took a bus for one hour"

Me: "Hrrrm, for one hour? Maybe 'I was on the bus for one hour."

Student: "Oooh."

Me: "Why were you on the bus?"

Student: "Because it was cold."

Me: "Cold? OK, but why didn't you take the train?"

*Momentary silence*

Me: "Why were you on the bus? Was the train stopped?"

*Incredibly embarrassed laughter*

Student: "Not bus, basu!"

Me: "Hrm?"

*Student writes bath.*

*I burst out laughing as well for a good minute*

Me: "Well actually, that was proper grammar the first time then. Good job!"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Full immersion

Band practice went splendidly today. We managed to crank through 3 songs without too much trouble. It's my first time playing music with a group of people since the beginning of August, and that my friends is far too long. Also my first time in a grindcore band, but it suits my fast and chaotic playing style well. I was showing my bandmates a riff I wrote with several 1 1/2 step hammer-ons and they said it looked like a spider crawling up the fretboard. Compliment?! Let the record show however that I do have freakishly long, skinny fingers. Also known as piano hands.

Probably the funniest thing that happened today (besides the two native Japanese getting lost trying to find a place in Shinjuku and not the foreigner for once) was some random guy coming up to us and making some kind or request I couldn't understand. Makiko translated for me that the dude wanted to take my picture with a guitar (I had my guitar slung on my back at the time), to which I responded: "Sure! Is there money involved?" Unfortunately this story has a sad ending. No paycheck means no free foreigner photoshoot, sorry dude.

On the subject of translating of my two bandmates the singer Makiko speaks impecible English, while Kana the bassist has O.K. skills - definitely impressive for a non-native speaker but still enough to create some language barriers. Today was a lot of Makiko re-wording what I said in Japanese for Kana and vice versa, which by the end I'm sure made all of our heads hurt a bit! Me trying to understand what I can in Japanese is a fun challenege, and I do catch a fair bit but often I lose the conversations. Makiko was nice enough to say I'll be fluent in a year! I somehow doubt it, altough I will suredly be improved. After all was said and done I felt like a part of the band for the first time, which was nice.

Certain bands came up, old local favorites of mine Evixxion being one of them due to their sticker on my guitar. Mike Dikk if you oppose let me know, but I thought I should share Evixxion's Joy Division covers with the world, since I ripped them for my bandmates upon request. Oh and you should totally put up those unreleased 7 songs on the net dude. Or perhaps some mp3s of that 7" I totally own but is my old basement in NY, that'd be HIFFY.

Side note: I tried Japanese Wendy's today and it wasn't too bad, besides the Spicy Chicken Sandwich being 2/3 the size of the American version.

Another Side note: After talking about it in some lessons, I have discovered that most Japanese people have no idea of the regular traditions that coincide with Christmas in America: having a tree in your house, putting presents under said tree, drinking egg nog, carols, etc. etc. Here they just kick back, maybe exchange some gifts and drink a lot.....

Wait. Maybe it isn't that different from our Christmas after all then.

And in closing, for no particular reason, here's Gizmo:

"They're closing in, they're closing in. Day in, day out, day in, day out, day in, day out..." - Joy Division

"There's something missing, there's something missing, no I can't name it I can't place it...I've tried girls and jobs, all that's left is drugs and god" - End of a Year

Friday, December 5, 2008

Old dead white guys and me

Hawthorne, Lovecraft and Tempura.

Lately I've taken to reading a lot of Lovecraft and Hawthorne, and I can soon feel a stint of Poe coming on in their wake. What makes these dudes who lived and died 80-170 years ago so darn appealing to me? Maybe it's the fact that 2 of the 3 were native New Englanders. Maybe it's the dream-state obsession which I myself possess, and which Lovecraft even took to the extremes of speculating odious and cacophonic worlds apart from our mere existance on earth (and talking spacecats that lived on the moon). Maybe it's just my addiction to big words and good writing, but I'm a fan of classical American literature. Being a late bloomer I didn't really discover this until College, but what they made me read really struck my fancy in a way that I have felt at times is superior to fantastical fiction or contemporary writing styles.

Novels today... as much as I enjoy Bukowski and the trends he and some other dudes I can't name set, they are all straight-forward punch-whizz-bang stuff and often read like movie scripts. Delving into this post-post-post-post-post-posto-modern style can be fun at times, and even downright enjoyable, but it plays to a mind which can't sit back and take in 15-sentence paragraph of pure detail. Over the last few years I've really developed an appreciation for an artist who can paint a picture in my brain, or take me on a journey into somewhere far away. Sometimes I want a gritty, real pciture of life and all it's mundanities, sure - but sometimes I like to think about what it was like to be alive 400 years ago in an era of brutal religious persecution; or perhaps I long to experience ghastly supernatural horrors which would make those around me deem me mad; or maybe I even desire to fall through the spheres and experience a world strange and surreal in contrast to my own.

While the modern-day narratives of movies and video games do give the new generation a clever, even at times superior substitute - certainly more colorful than staring at a black and white page - they will always in my mind be second to the power of a good short story or novel. And while we're on the subject and though I'm like 9 months behind in saying this, Disney somehow didn't butcher Prince Caspian! They made it rich and lively in detail, and far superior to their first Narnia adaption which wasn't even that bad, besides its complete bloodlessness. Voyage of the Dawn Treader will be a visual cornucopia of Disney magic.

I got a Lord of the Rings audiobook with my name on it, but after I finish Harry Potter I might just switch gears to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or perhaps Salman Rushdie if I'm feeling adventurous enough. (I consume audiobooks by train, and words on paper at home) Upon completion of this post however I will probably dork out on Blue Dragon or Megaman 9, so I am at least a partial hypocrite with this whole BOOKS ARE SO MUCH BETTER thing.

In other Belcher-related news, I have my first band practice with F.I.D. this weekend (which if you've forgotten is the grindcore band I'm joining) so I am very excited for that. Also only 12 more working days until Christmas break! The suspense is killing me. Today in my Junior High class I was also asked my age by a 13-year-old kid whom I needed to show my I.D. to get him to believe I'm only 23. He also kept saying "YES WE CAN," impersonating Obama as the lesson was about "I can such-and-such" sentences.

Speaking of Christmas, my phone starting showing this screen:

I am enjoying my first Holiday season in relatively comfortable whether - it's been in the mid 50s to lower 60s for the past few weeks - and although temperatures will eventually drop some more, and although it might hit *gasp* freezing some time in January, this winter should be a veritable breeze compared to Upstate New York. Until we meet again, oh ye thespians in the melodrama of life!

"You speculate on the luxury of wearing out a whole existence in bed, like an oyster in its shell, content with the sluggish ecstacy of inaction, and drowsily conscious of nothing but delicious warmth, such as you now feel again. Ah! that idea has brought a hideous one in its train. You think how the dead are lying in their cold shrouds and narrow coffins..." - Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Haunted Mind

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bye Bye Bills

After watching my team go on a 4-0 run at the start of the season, things are looking mighty bleak after an embarassing loss to the 49ers, putting them at 6-6. They even missed a field goal shorter than an extra point, and granted it was rainy, but almost every aspect of the offense besides Marshawn Lynch looked sloppy. With all playoff hopes relatively crushed, all I have to say is "maybe next year." Because no matter how bad it gets, I'm still forever a Bills fan, in other words accustomed to crushing defeat.

Monday, December 1, 2008

"You make good mosh"

This last week was somewhat busy and very fun. Granted I've also been lazy about updating, but for the 10-20 hardcore followers I have on this thing needs fear not, I'm gonna keep this going even if posting gets sparse on occasion.

I found out that when I take my trip with Kevin next month, I get to meet up with Mami (the T.A. of my last semester of Japanese in college) in Hiroshima and Akira (also a good friend from college whom I gave the ridiculously big pizza leftovers from my job on the regular) in Kyoto/Nara. I am mega-excited for this trip, although it consists of collectively 24 hours of overnight bus trips, it should be well worth it. I'm also not planning on bringing Most Precious Lappy with me since I baby the thing, so I'll just make a giant post when I come back. December 25-January 4, couting down the days!

On Tuesdays I have an 80-minute class of roughly 3 regular members, with usually at least 1 substitute students and occasionally a model-lesson student. The latter is, as you may have guessed someone trying out the class to see if they like it, so there is a little extra pressure on yours truly to give a bangin' lesson. It's called "Advanced Media" and its the highest level class there is at my school, and frankly I love teaching it because I get to do things my way and I find it more challenging and rewarding. We talk about news stuff and I often explain very some big words and engage in some really good discussions. Last class was good but a bit stressful at the start because my book had "disappeared" (actually had been accidentally picked up by another teacher) so I was five minutes late even though I had a substitute student I never met before and a model-lesson student. I started off right away with explaining that I'd have to look on with the new student's book and said: "are you impressed yet?"

Students really seem to enjoy my sense of humor for the most part, which makes me happy, since I can be myself and I thrive best in that element. We talked about animal rights and other various moral dilemmas, such as life longevity and if machines could ever take over the world Terminator 2-style. Suffice it to say not only was the class good, but the new student enjoyed it and signed up for my class, which made me feel pretty elated at the end of the day.

Thursday was Turkey Day, and I celebrated by eating curry! Unfortunately Turkey is quite hard to find in Japan, although I heard of a palce caleld Fujimamas that offers American-style meals for relatively cheap, I didn't make it there. Oh well. It really is just another day of the year, and like I told a few other people my Mother cooked me a fantastic Thanksgiving-style meal right before I left home, so that was my T-day.

That night however had three firsts: I went out on a work-night, which I surprisingly hadn't done yet. I chalk this up to getting out at 9:30-10:00 and having to catch the last train by 12:45, but also because I'm lazy. I also went to Roppongi, famous meatmarket of Japan which was, as Ian so correctly and succinctly put it, a shithole. Nothing but tons of silly gaijin and dudes hassling you to come to this and that bar (Some guy even grabbed my arm which pisses me off A LOT). Some people like it but I could probably due with going there again some time never.

Now I know that all sounded very bitter and negative, but here's the upshot and 3rd first time event: the bar me and my friend Cristo went to was having a Grand Opening special of free drinks all night. Naturally it was packed beyond belief but somehow we managed to get in and worm our way to the bar. Getting noticed by the bartender was tricky and time consuming but I managed to get 6 frees which was nice. Bars aren't really my scene but I met some cool Filipinos and some dude from Miami there on vacation. There was a "fire show" (apparently the signature act of this particular chain: Wall Street Pub) and some girls dancing on the bar. The music was lame though. All I ever want to hear when I'm drinking beer is something in the vein of D.R.I. or Metallica. I had a pretty good time, regardless.

Friday I met up with Ian in Tachikawa before work - actually I had told him "I'll meet you at the station" so I spent 36 minutes pointlessly on a train to his home station and back - and got the package I've been waiting for from me mum: over 400 dvds and cds of mine, clothes, and lots of books. The only downside was that I had to lug a 42 pound box across 3 different trains during a pretty busy time. I did live to tell the tale, however.

Saturday night I saw Loyal to the Grave, Midgardsorm (who are fucking GREAT and are kind of like a Japanese-version of Irate) and some other bands in Shibuya. I really should have taken some pics but I was being lazy that night.

Some more cool white dudes

Sunday I saw my buddy Ian's band, Second Hearts, and they sounded umpteen-times better with him playing drums. It was a show full of heavy hardcore bands and people being drunken maniacs. Some guy jumped on my back while I was dancing, sending me into another guy who fell over and spilled his beer all over the stage. Everyone had a pretty fun time, and I think it was my friend Chris' first real "hardcore show." He liked it. The singer of every band stage-dove; And the best part of it all is when you stage-dive here, people actually try to hold you up. The Wall is definitely a sweet venue and I'll be sure to go there again some time soon. I took the mic for some band I didn't even know and was like "MOVE THIS PLACE, NEW YORK STYLE!!" Because I love doing mosh calls.

Today is just a Monday like any other (my Sunday if you've forgotten) and I took it easy. My ankle is still a bit sore from something I did to it last night. I've been enjoying my 360 which just came back from Microsoft, and between that and my personal library this place is feeling more and more like ye olde dungeon back home.

My over-the-top setup.

In other news I ate some really good Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki for breakfast. Yessiree. Oh, and one more thing that happened today: While I was sitting in my chair I felt a sudden slight but distinct shaking underneath me, and it must have been a really small tremor. I've never experienced an earthquake before and it was just weird. I certainly hope a full blown one never hits Tokyo, although the seismologists say we're long overdue!

My first Christmas away from the family is just around the corner, but I'm feeling pretty good about everything. I'm not too big on the holidays anyway but the Japanese sure are! Here is a glimpse of what it is looking like on my side of the world:

Downtown in Shibuya late on a Saturday night. Xmas stuff everywhere

The convenience store near my apartment.

My street. There's even a blinking Elmo-sign!

"However, I'm really fascinating to the letter, my English grammar gets better and better" - KRSONE

"She's half-way listenin', to what she thinks she knows. We're like children drifting in our parents clothes" - Mewithoutyou