Monday, March 08, 2004

Blue Light Yokohama
Subtitle: I'm a disorganized idiot
Actually writing this from an internet cafe in Yokohama. I'm supposed to be looking for a hotel right now to stay the night, but I saw this internet cafe and I thought I'd pop in for a minute or two.
I'm in Yokohama for a conference for "Returning JETs".
Perhaps a bit of a misnomer, because I think a lot of us aren't planning on returning, but it is a conference for people who are finishing up their last few months on JET. The goal is to provide us information on things like putting together a resume, dealing with reverse culture shock, employment opportunities post JET, etc.
Unlike the other various conferences I've attended during my JET tenure, this conference is optional. Because it is for our own benefit, it is not required we attend. Furthermore, because this conference is for our own benefit, lodging and transportation costs are our own responsibility.
For that reason, many of my other 3rd year JET friends have opted not to attend. And word out on the street, from people who have attended this conference in the past, was that it is not all that useful.
But I'm confused enough about the future where I figure I could use all the help I could get. Also, I'm in a very fortunate position, because my Board of Education has offered to reimburse me for travel and hotel expenses. Very few other JETs have BOEs that are so generous. I'm lucky indeed.
However, because I'm....well because I'm the way I am, I have sort of muddled a lot of things up. Although I was supposed to make reservations at the hotel the conference is being held at, I neglected to do this until the deadline had passed. Also I waited until the last minute to arrange transportation. I was going to travel by bullet train, but doing the math on Friday afternoon, I discovered a plane ticket was almost just as cheap, and I could leave a day later if I took the plane, thus saving one night's hotel fee. (Not that it matters terribly because I'm getting reimbursed by the Board of Education, but you know, no point in wasting money). But because I waited till the last minute to buy plane tickets, I had to pay full price.
In fact, truth be told, I never properly filled out my application form for this conference. The application was due before Christmas vacation, so on the day before I left to go back to Michigan, I pulled it out of my bag, only to discover that from weeks of just lying in the bottom of my back pack, it had become wrinkled, and torn in half. As this was the day before I was supposed to leave for Christmas vacation, I just thought , "screw it, I guess I'm not going to the conference." While I was in America, the Board of Education (without me even asking) used their copy of the application to send it in and apply for me.
It gets worse. I overslept this morning. I accidentally set my alarm for 6 PM instead of 6 AM, so I woke up at 7:20, twenty minutes after I was supposed to have left my apartment, without having even packed my bags yet. I quickly threw a suit and a tie and my toothbrush in my bag, jumped in my car, and arrived at the airport 10 minutes before my plane took off.
And now I'm at a 3 day conference on how to be professional and get a job.
The conference is in Yokohama, which for anyone unfamiliar with Japan, is essentially just part of Tokyo. Over the 3 years I've been in Japan, this is the first time since JET orientation that I've been back in Tokyo. (Greg and I did get a ride through Tokyo on our hitch hiking trip this summer, but I don't think that counts because we never got off the expressway).
On of my favorite Japanese songs is called "Blue Light Yokohama". It is a woman singer talking about walking through the streets of Yokohama and looking at all the flashing signs at night.
It's an old song from 1968. (I've developed a bit of an interest in Japanese oldies. I like to rent old music from the video shops). So it's obviously a bit dated now, but I was excited to come to Yokohama just because I like that song.
Not that I have much time to sight see or walk around. The 3 days I'm here I'm busy attending the conference. But right now I'm wandering around Yokohama looking for a cheap hotel. I don't mind doing that, except I've got this bulky suitcase with me. And the wheels broke off two years ago at the conference in Kobe, because of a girl named Heather. So with every step I take with this suitcase, I think of Heather.
Anyway, I saw this internet cafe, and I thought I'd take a short break from Hotel hunting. Which pretty much brings us up to date.
Don't worry about me, I should find a place somewhere. Already passed two "Love Hotels" which I could go back to and spend the night if it comes to it. (Although they aren't really intended for parties of one, if you know what I mean (and I think you do)). Otherwise I can sleep in this internet cafe (people do it in Japan instead of hotels sometimes. The internet cafes even have "night rates").

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