Saturday, April 22, 2006

What I've Been Up To

I suppose I should take a break from all these book reviews and post an update. Not that there's a lot to update on.

Still hanging out at Shoko’s place in Hita. At the risk of repeating myself ad nauseum, I’ll mention again that I’m a bit isolated here. I no longer have a car, I don’t know anyone in Hita besides Shoko, and there’s no easy train access to anywhere I want to go. And even if all this wasn’t the case, all my friends have jobs so I’d have to entertain myself during the daytime anyway.

This doesn’t bug me as much as it did last time around, and I think attitude is a key difference. Because I knew this was how it was going to be, I was mentally prepared for it. In fact, during the last couple weeks in Gifu when I was busy with packing and good-bye parties, I was already looking forward to this period when I would just absorb myself in my books.

So, while Shoko’s away at work, I’ve been slipping into deep Geek mode. I’ve been reading a lot of books, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Expect a lot more book reviews to come. Shoko got internet hooked up at her place, which means I don’t have to walk down to the internet café every time I want to update this blog. This is the first time I’ve had regular internet access since I’ve been in Japan, and I’m discovering how dangerous it is. I’m trying to resist the temptation to check my e-mail every half hour, or spend all morning looking up pointless stuff on wikipedia. I know I wrote previously that I might be a little off on e-mail this month, but I take it all back. Send me a message.

I've tried to establish a bit of routine for myself. After spending the first few days sleeping till noon, I now try and get out of bed at 10:30 every morning. I do light exercises, and try and help out with the cleaning of the apartment by washing dishes and folding laundry.

If I get bored in the middle of the afternoon I usually take a walk around town. Hita is a lot bigger than Ajimu is, but it’s still relatively a country town, and so an unidentified foreigner walking around causes all sorts of confusion. In Ajimu at least people knew who I was and I worked at the local schools. In Hita my presence causes a lot of speculation among the locals. Most people just stare. The worst so far was when I was in a café when I noticed two high school girls were spying on me through the window. They would duck back behind the windowsill whenever I looked up from my book with a lot of screaming and giggling. Eventually I waved to them and they ran to their bikes and went away.

Because I’m stuck out in Hita I haven’t seen a ton of the old gang. When Shoko has a day off or an errand I sometimes hitch a ride with her to the old hangouts. Shoko and I went into Oita city and ran into Mike by chance in the local Starbucks. Then Mike invited us to a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) party where we met a few more friends. We also made it into Usa one night to meet up with Chris and Ben, and then I saw Eoin and David of Nanbanjin in Nakatsu on our way back.

A lot of my former Japanese co-workers keep asking me to swing by Ajimu and visit (a few, to be bluntly honest, are being persistent to the point of annoyance). So far I haven’t had a chance but I will definitely try and do this before I leave.

I also met Shoko’s mother for the first time when Shoko and I went to her house for dinner. In Japan it’s not common to meet the parents until the relationship is serious, so I’ve avoided meeting the mother until now. Shoko’s mother isn’t thrilled that her daughter is dating a foreigner, but I got a polite, if somewhat distant, reception.

Other than that not too much to report. Cherry blossom season has already come and gone while I’ve been here in Oita. As always, this blog is pretty rubbish on pictures, but Chris posted images on his blog if you want to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Since the cherry blossoms only last two weeks, I’ve always thought it was odd how important they were to Japanese culture. But then again, as Justin points out on his blog, that’s the whole point. It’s a reminder that life is fleeting. Shoko and I managed to take a few walks through the cherry blossoms before they all vanished.

Useless Wikipedia Fact

Disney comic strip artist and creator of the Huey, Dewey and Louie ducklings, Al Taliaferro, named Huey after Huey Long.

Link of the Day

The Ongoing War on Truth in Iraq

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