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Today In CA

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Szkandelous.archive.september27_30

9/30

It's a rather cold and rainy Sunday. As of right now I'm in a coffee shop studying for my Kanji test tomorrow/updating the website. I went to the bank to deposit money to pay for rent, but it was closed. Then I fell down a flight of stairs in the rain and landed on my backpack, the backpack that was carrying my computer. Luckily, it's okay. But let's not talk about today. Let’s talk about yesterday.

Saturday, September 29, was a beautiful, sunny day. As rare as a cloudless day in Tokyo is, this one was uniquely lovely. A slight wind was blowing, and, although it caused somewhat of a chill, it also managed to clear out the smog and fog that usually makes the air humid and oppressive. It was one of those days you only get in California at the end of fall after a nice rain, the kind of day which makes the change from fall to winter worthy of all the poetry that's been written about it here in Japan. When the sunlight hits your face you can't help but think, "this is just charming."

The night before I had gone to a party for all the new exchange students and had met many a nice Japanese person as well as drunk my fair share of beer. It was all very fun and when I got home at 12:00AM I immediately fell into a deep slumber. It was one of those setups where you wake up and just feel at peace.

And I probably would have been except that on this lovely Saturday I had to get up at 6:30AM in order to get to school by 9; my peaceful slumber shattered by the increasing volume and pulsing beat of my alarm clock. I looked out the window of the train on the way to school as the day blossomed.

Thus began the most boring day of school I think I have ever experienced. More boring than high school Spanish class, more boring than the review of multiplication freshman year, even more boring than all those religion classes I had to take over the course of my academic career. Things I taught myself three years ago before professionally studying Japanese were covered. Stuff like "si" is actually pronounced "shi", which is taught on the first day of Japanese class, we learned. And then our teacher went through the ranks of our class and had us recite a sentence he chose from the textbook. When someone would mess up, he would brake down the sentence into really small pieces and slowly started adding them together until we got back to the original sentence. Eventually he grew tired of the asking the class and broke down every sentence. Then we went over class work.

Since I had another class that evening I had to stay on campus. Trying to kill time, I wrote emails to everyone. I vividly remember watching the sun come down from inside of my advanced grammar class. Speaking of which, we did a quick test to see how much of the grammar to be studied this semester we already knew. I don't think I have ever been told, "you suck" in quite that way. Then I wandered around Shinjuku.

Anyway, there is a silver lining to my dark cloud. That night I decided that I needed to go to this music club over near my house called "Heaven's Soor". My friend Aton claims they are one of the centers of the Japanese underground. I was walk walk walking to Heaven's Door when I saw a bunch of kids outside and so I asked them what sort of music was playing; they said "ambient".

It wasn't ambient like Aphex Twin or Brian Eno but it was really, really cool. I think that that night's show happened to be some sort of super concert that three of the bigger local bands threw together because they kept talking about the three bands as the Triple A Consortium. The music ranged from kind of Bjork-y trip-hop to progressive instrumental to Hum-like waves of distortion. In short, it was superb.

There was one band called Faril's Cafe (or something similar) that I believe was based in America because the lead singer spoke fluent Japanese but acted sort of American and the bass player was a white guy. They're regular drummer was in New York because his father had died in the World Trade Center, so they read a note from him which I thought was moving. He said that he didn't want to kill whoever did it. Instead he said to tell the people you love that you love them.

The night ended around 11PM and although no one really talked to me, I had quite a good time. I think I'm acclimated to being a gaijin.

At the coffee shop I'm listening to jazz and drinking drip coffee (another one of the myriad of names for just plain coffee, what’s up?). The background on my computer screen is of this lovely sunsetI stumbled across a couple of weeks ago during a cooking class. It's raining outside, but calm nonetheless. I guess I've sort of gotten back the day that I lost.

9/28 Saturday

I've been spending a lot of time at a store called "Mr. Donut" (based in San Francisco, home of "the world's best coffee and donuts"). I'd like to believe I go there because they have free refills on American coffee and not that I'm a fat American but I could be wrong.

I asked the shop clerk what the difference between American coffee and blend coffee was (this was actually an issue because I asked for blend coffee and he was like "all we have is American") but he could not answer back in a sentence that I could understand. In the US, to make a coffee Americano means to add water, but here the American coffee is kinda strong. Of course, I've never been to a donut shop with that serves regular strength coffee.

I've found clubs to join, so I must e-mail them to see if they will be my friends. There is one that prides itself in listening to Weezer and Rancid, so I'm going to shoot for that one even though it's at another campus.

Oh, yeah, tonight's the night of the big welcome party for all the new foreign students. I may go despite the fact that I have school tomorrow (Saturday). Oh yeah, I got a cell phone.

9/27

Today we celebrated Dan leaving to a far away land called Sendai. First I did a bunch of errands, then Brian, Dan, and I went to Shinjuku.

Like a proper trip to Shinjuku we got lost while trying to find a movie theater. We found many "movie" theaters, but... Eventually we came across a theater playing the new Miyazaki movie whose name I'm not entirely sure of but I think it begins "Sen to Jihiro no…" Just in case you are out of the loop, Miyazaki is the same guy that brought the world "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Princess Mononoke".

See this movie. The art is just fantastic, the story interesting, and the dialog... in Japanese so I can't really tell you. To describe it, all I can say is that it's like "Alice in Wonderland" without the drug references and with a Japanese flavor. I would say that that's a good thing, but if you live on Telegraph Avenue, you might disagree. But don't take my word for it, go out and see it for yourself (the American release by Disney will be under the title “Spirited Away”).

After the movie we went for yakiniku, which is where you personally fry your own beef on this grill that is in the middle of your table. After a couple of courses of "ros" (I have no idea what that is) we decided to try some tongue. Cow tongue you sicko. No, we cooked the cow tongue and then ate it, Jesus get you mind out of the gutter. Yeah, then we went home.

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