Weekend Re-cap

So things are definately heating up in the JET-o-sphere. Last weekend marked the last time I have free on my calendar for roughly the next 3 weeks...and I don't even get around!

For those of you who were doing other things (and also because I got tired of looking at the slippers post), here's a bit of what you missed:


The little town of Morodomi (which is only remarkable for its gym, Happy Tree Pizza, and--I'd like to imagine-- yours truly) was all a-bustle as kids in the JHS prepare for their speech contests.

I ended up working with them after school that day, which was kind of frustrating because I was definately itching to get home and also itching to swing by the bank to withdraw money for savings before I could spend it for Less Worthwhile Things. (Should I come upon piles and piles of man notes one day, I have a fat list of LWTs already prepared: splurgy food, booze, electronics, etc. )

Of course, I was coaching until 5:51 pm and it's by the grace of my mad driving skills and the smallness of Moro-patch that I swung into the bank right as the ATMs were about to close.

With this cash advance, I got home and threw my bike in my car (since my local bike shop was closed at this point in the evening) and, using my cell phone to navigate, discovered how to get from my driveway to the AEON Supercenter in about 12 minutes. Bike repaired there, I headed back home and took off for Tony's Birthday Party in the ken apts.

Shortly after detouring through Booze (scotch for the birthday boy, vodka for me) , I ran into Diane and Sarah Busche--and the latter deserves a special shout-out since it was also HER birthday. They were on their way to celebrate in style with cake and champagne. And for the first time in my life, I wished I could be in two places at once for the sole purpose of getting drunk twiceover.

Tony managed to cram quite a fine number of people into his tinyish ken apt.-- I counted roughly 20 revelers at one point--spirits were high due to spirits of another variety. The highlight of these was Tony's sangria-inspired punch, which was a nice festive touch.

Now a strange many people have been asking about this, but no, nobody got that seriously shitfaced. So take that as either a good or bad thing. Tony wished us goodnight around 2 or 3 (and sort of fell asleep/passed out on the couch) and the last few people left within the hour. Unlike other nights, no bus stops were harmed on my way home--and that's a-okay with me.

My cell phone was shot (probably from all that rice field navigating) so I stuck it on the charger and set my old backup alarm clock.

I had the best sleep ever that night.


Saturday for me began at 5:45 pm, when my "just in case I sleep all day and into the night" alarm went off. Remember this, because it's an important detail that comes into play later on.

I was really psyched about the Diwali party at Poonam's . . . but having no concept of time, I ended up dragging in roughly 2 hours late, after a swing by AEON where I went on a beverage buying binge. The wonderful thing about gaijin parties is that it's not as big a deal. There's always going to be someone who shows up after you.

And that someone was wearing a nifty, faux fur-trimmed jacket. (Bless you, Lizzie!)

Anyway, I've heard that last year's Diwali party was a bit more of a to-do, but I think everyone had a good time this year, too: the food was yummy and the company was (as usual) perfect. It was very cool to see people in traditional Indian garb. We also got to see Nirav's bike in the flesh, er, metal. It's pretty sweet.

We passed around Poonam's laptop and watched YouTube (Can anyone escape it's evil click-n-view-click-n-view siren call?) This culminated in Nirav having to watch/listen to the same compilation of Little Britain's "Computer Says No" sketches three times. Finally, we capped off the night with Sarah and Poonam concocting various snack-y, finger-lickin' good desserts from chocolate, butter, popcorn, and sugar. After that, we decended into Sonic the Hedgehog and watching Baywatch-spoof videos of Poonam, Sarah, Jon Brooks, and Diane bouncing, shimmying, lunging, and generally hamming it up on the beach in Miyazaki.

"Computer says 'nooooo'." *Cough*
Note how Poonam is winsome even when she's
trying to look disgusting and misanthropic.


I had been roped into going to the Saga University Attached Elementary School Sports Day, and no amount of guilt-inducing texting "Oh, I'm sorry I didn't email you earlier. I woke up at 18:00 today. It's sooo early tomorrow, isn't it?" was going to get me off the hook. At most, I earned a 30-minute reprieve. So even though I was up until 3ish again, I was starting Sunday at 7:45 in the morning.

Few people actually know that Sports Days were invented by the Japanese in the 1950s as a way to punish foreigners by creating a social obligation ("It would just mean soooo much to him if you came!") that requires one to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday (thus offing any Saturday night revelry) when one doesn't even necessarily play any sports. Which is exactly the problem. If there is a sport I do, I would much rather play it than watch. But here I felt so like some kid's parent. I wonder if Mom felt like this at my track meets in high school?

The "sports" that Japanese kids do on these days amaze me. I would look up and suddenly see kids throwing around a 3-meter-wide ball. Or they would be in happis performing traditional fishermen dances. It was very cool... I didn't get to take part in the crazy ball-throwing basket thing, which was too bad, because that looked kind of fun. Instead, I was invited to take part in what I describe (for lack of a better or more sensitive word) as The Gayest Dance Ever. Having also driven to this event, I hadn't had a drink or two like most of the adults and my silly gaijin dignity was not letting me flutter my hands, hop and spin, or point my toes in a hyperactive pop-and-lock routine to some sparkly high-pitched music, no matter how perky. Why does everything in Japan have to be so cute??

Me, being a bad sport on Sports Day.

Lee-Ann, who also knew the kid I was there for, came by later on to watch. Kudos to her, because she'd already put in her Sports Day dues last year at this same school. As we were heading home, she mentioned that her birthday is Wednesday (oy! Another!) and that she was getting together with some people to chill out in Tosu.

The last few weeks I've been in a perpetual state of light hung-overness. Except I'm not drinking. I just feel kind of lethargic and crappy and headachey anyway. I'm pinning it on dehydration, because I've been drinking more coffee at work and much less in the way of water, juice or sports drinks-- mostly because it's not the hot summertime anymore, so the need for them is less obvious. So I actually haven't felt like drinking much lately (which is a nice change from August, when I was starting to worry myself from going out nearly every other night). Anyway, perhaps that's one reason I'm driving everywhere. Also, I've been wanting to explore the ken and I'm enjoying a full gas tank thanks to pay day. So I was debating taking a train to Tosu or not, but when the weather report said "rain" that decided it. So I drove out to Tosu.

It's about 45/50 minutes from Morodomi..not too bad. Especially since that's driving under 40 mph -- I can't believe how slow the speed limits are here! I routinely drove to Little Rock doing 85, which translates to 136 kph. The sad thing is that nobody really drives much slower on the highways. Maybe the expressway is different, but even on "small" roads in America, you can drive faster than 60 kph.

"Life" is a cozy little reggae-themed bar out on route 17, past the Harley Davidson emporium. The party was very low-key. Nice music, good talking. I was about 2 hours late. I got to meet a few ALTs who I'd missed before, as well as some former ALTs still hanging around. A quiet night, but still a late one. Happy birthday, Lee-Ann!

Don't let Theresia fool you: last night was pretty mellow.
The one on the right is my water.

And that brings us back around to


Which I spent grovelling to Kyoto-sensei. Last night, my cell phone was nearly dead again, so I whipped out the old backup alarm clock. And in my half-asleep state, assumed that the 5:45 on it was just a super-early morning from a couple of weeks ago. So after a couple of quick ticks to bring it up to "6:59" I passed out.

And woke up at 8:41...nearly an hour after I was supposed to be at work.

Remember Friday, when I'd set the alarm clock to keep me from sleeping through the Diwali party? Yeah, I didn't either. So I checked my alarm, and sure enough, it was set for 6:59 pm. D'oh. In times like this (after you've wished that you could just go back to sleep and start over) you wonder whether it's better to call in before you've had a shave and a shower or after so that at least you can get to school quickly once you've called in. Not that I bothered to check the Handbook as I was frantically looking for my keys, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't get into the finer points of damage control.

Having called in with my story (which probably sounded so fake) and gotten dressed, I rushed to school (luckily, I didn't miss class, so my students weren't the wiser) and commenced apologizing. Whilst googling for ways to grovel in Japanese, I came upon a couple of blogs where JETs were having even worse times than I was. And that made me feel better. (Hurray for schadenfreude!) Note to self: get kyoto-sensei something nice later on this month.

So that was my weekend. If you've gotten this far, I hope that your week got off to a better start. It looks like it's going to be about like this for the next three weeks, so I'm enjoying the ride, but another 3-day weekend sure would be nice.

UPDATE: More Birthday Fun!

So another "Happy Birthday" goes to Dustin, who celebrated last night (I think).

What is it with so many Saga JETs being:

a) from Action Heights or New Jersey or
b) Having birthdays in late October?

Was someone in Tokyo having some fun when they sorted applications?